April 15, 2015 2:40 PM, EDT
Sen. Deb Fischer Wants GAO to Study West Coast Ports
US Senate Committee on Commerce
Sen. Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) asked the Government Accountability Office to research the effects of the labor-related slowdown at West Coast ports, according to an April 15 letter released by her office.

Fischer wrote to Comptroller General Gene Dodaro in her role as chairman of a surface transportation and marine infrastructure subcommittee. Dodaro runs GAO, Congress’ investigative agency.

The old labor pact between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Western port terminal operators expired mid-2014, but employees are voting to confirm or reject a new deal.

Fischer wants GAO to examine four points: the impact of the slowdown on related industries, including agriculture, manufacturing and retail sales; shifts to other modes of transportation and their effects on supply chains; the costs and effects of regional shifts; and an evaluation of the current status of infrastructure at West Coast ports.

Fischer told Dodaro the backlog of cargo at the ports is the equivalent of six to eight weeks of work. When combined with new freight arriving, Fischer said it could take months to get back to normal.