WASHINGTON — The Port of Los Angeles will begin operating around the clock as the White House pushes to clear supply chain bottlenecks threatening the holiday shopping season and slowing the country’s economic recovery from the global pandemic, senior Biden administration officials said.
Similar steps have already been taken in recent weeks at the Port of Long Beach. Together the two sprawling facilities are responsible for nearly half of all imports into the United States, making them a key part of logistical networks strained by the coronavirus crisis.
The administration officials said the plan, which is scheduled to be announced Wednesday by President Joe Biden, was brokered by the White House as part of an effort to untangle supply chain problems that are making it harder for Americans to get electronics, cars, lumber and other consumer goods that rely on overseas manufacturing.
“It will help us start to address the backlog,” said one of the officials, who requested anonymity before the announcement.
Under the plan, the Port of Los Angeles will nearly double the number of hours that cargo is moving off container ships and onto highways by having crews work through the night. Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union will fill the extra shifts, according to officials.
In addition, major shippers and retailers — including Walmart, FedEx, UPS, Samsung, Home Depot and Target — will ramp up their operations to clear cargo out of the ports, freeing up more space on the docks.
The goal is to move an additional 3,500 containers during the night each week.
On Wednesday, Biden is scheduled to announce the plan after a virtual conference involving industry executives and labor leaders. Among the participants are Gene Seroka and Mario Cordero, the executive directors of the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, respectively.
The president will also probably use the occasion to promote his infrastructure proposals, which would invest in port facilities and transportation networks to expand their capacity.
Supply chain problems first gained wide attention early this year when U.S. automakers were struggling to obtain enough computer chips that are necessary for modern cars to function. In February, Biden announced a review of the issue.