Amazon Union Vote Set, Southern Ports Post Record Year, Air Freight Growth Slowed
Amazon Union Vote Set
Online retail giant Amazon faces a new union vote at an Alabama fulfillment center in a few weeks, nearly a year after winning.
The National Labor Relations Board set Feb. 4 for the vote it ordered late last year after ruling that the Seattle-based company’s tactics used to fight the unionization effort at the Bessemer facility outside Birmingham prevented a fair election in April.
In late December, the board reached a settlement with Amazon over how it handles unionization efforts, which are growing among employees at the company’s distribution centers.
Terms of the settlement included Amazon sending a message to former and current employees to inform them about their rights to organize and allows the NLRB to sue Amazon more easily if the company violates the agreement.
The company is facing renewed union efforts at four distribution centers in Staten Island, New York. Amazonians United Chicagoland are pressing to organize employees at Chicago-area facilities.
Southern Ports Post Record Year
Ports in Virginia, South Carolina and Alabama handled record amounts of cargo last year as the supply chain contended with surging e-commerce sales.
The Port of Virginia in Norfolk handled 3.5 million 20-foot equivalent units in 2021, a 25.2% increase from 2020 and the most ever, according to port officials. It also had the best December in the port’s history. The port is also in the process of nearly doubling its container-lifting capabilities.
Down the coast, the Port of Charleston handled 2.75 million TEUs last year, the highest in the port’s history, a 19% increase over 2020 and 13% more than in 2019. It, too, reported the best December on record.
And Alabama's Port of Mobile, which is smaller than Norfolk and Charleston, had a similar record year as its bigger counterparts, handing 502,623 TEUs, a nearly 19% increase over 2020. Port officials touted that the port had minimal to no congestion.
Congestion has plagued the largest West Coast ports in Los Angeles and Long Beach and shipping costs rose considerably. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has proposed a budget that includes $2.3 billion in spending to improve the state’s ports.
Air Freight Growth Slowed
While shipping struggled with the busiest ports around the world, air freight companies saw slower growth globally during the first days of the holiday season amid supply chain struggles.
The International Air Transport Association reported Tuesday that global demand, which is measured by cargo tonne-kilometers, rose 3.7% in November over 2019 but was lower than the 8.2% growth in October.
In North America, however, demand showed a 13.3% increase over 2019, the highest of any region in the world. Still, North American air carriers’ 11.4% increase in international cargo in November was far short of the 20.3% in October over 2019.
The association partly blamed the slower growth on labor shortages, notably employees being quarantined because of the coronavirus. Other factors included insufficient storage space at airports and processing backlogs.
New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and the Los Angeles International Airport were among the most congested.