The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association have come to an agreement over a new five-year contract for port workers. This ends their nine-month dispute and a slowdown of traffic at ports that has affected everyone from auto workers in Ohio to fast food fans in Venezuela. The U.S. Secretary of Labor stepped in to help the two sides come to an agreement, and now everyone is working hard to clear the backlog. [More]
Today, workers at the major sea ports on the West Coast report back after a split four-day weekend. Contract negotiations between the union and a trade organization that represents shipping companies have continued for nine months, and the U.S. Secretary of Labor is joining the negotiations today before the slowdown has worse effects on the global economy. [More]
The backlog of unloaded cargo shops on the West Coast of the United States has had some odd effects on the world. We’ve pointed out some small, sometimes amusing issues: Asian automakers must use air cargo to ship needed parts to their factories in the U.S., and McDonald’s Japan airlifted emergency fries as it deals with a shortage. Yet all this hilarity could have serious consequences for the American economy if the current issues continue. [More]
It will soon be more difficult for consumers who prefer the taste of British-made chocolate to get their sweet-tooth fix. A new deal between Hershey’s and Let’s Buy British Imports essentially puts a stop to the import of many iconic British chocolate brands from overseas. [More]
Everyone knows that the “genuine designer handbag” going for $20 from a street vendor is neither genuine nor designer, and indeed may not even hold up as a bag. But when you go to a reputable retailer and spend what it costs to replace the tires on your car, you expect to get what the real goods. Alas, Consumer Reports has found: just because there’s a brand name you know on the outside of a tire, doesn’t mean you’re getting what you should be. [More]
Of all the agonies that confront cancer patients, an unnecessary shortage of drugs they need must be among the more frustrating. The Food and Drug Administration is showing some compassion for the sick by easing import rules for two crucial cancer drugs in order to bulk up supply. [More]
Most of the honey on store shelves isn’t the genuine article. This according to testing findings, which found that most products labeled as honey are actually flower nectar with pollen filtered out. This filtering process disqualifies the product form passing most worldwide quality standards. [More]
Wired reports that the government is considering a ban on the import of Burmese pythons and eight other “injurious species” of snake, because loser pet owners in Florida keep releasing them into the wild where they breed and take over. If enacted, the ban would only affect imports, not sales by breeders in the US, but prices will probably shoot up. [More]
The Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has just worked out another penalty settlement with a toy company over those lead-tainted toys that graced shelves from 2005 to 2007. Reuters says RC2 will pay a $1.25 million civil penalty to resolve allegations that it “imported and sold Thomas & Friends Wooden Railway toys with paints and surface coatings that contained lead levels above legal limits.” About two years ago, RC2 settled a class-action lawsuit over the same toys. [More]
CBS’s The Early Show aired a segment last Friday about counterfeit holiday lights and extension cords, mostly from China and mostly available at dollar stores, that can cause fires. The problem is that the manufacturers use shoddy materials, and sometimes even fake UL stickers, to give the impression that they’re following safety guidelines. You find out they’re not when your tree goes up in flames. [More]
When agents raided Gibson Guitar’s manufacturing facility earlier this week, some articles pointed out that the company’s CEO Henry Juszkiewicz was on the board of the Rainforest Alliance, a group that certifies businesses to sell their goods under an environmentally sustainable label. Now the group has postponed its annual certification of Gibson Guitars, and Juszkiewicz is temporarily stepping down from the board.
Yesterday, US Fish & Wildlife Services agents issued a search warrant on Gibson Guitars’ manufacturing plant in Nashville, TN. The Nashville Post writes that they “seized wood, guitars, computers and boxes of files from Gibson Guitar’s Massman Road manufacturing facility.”
China is itching to sell their processed chickens directly to the U.S. market, an idea that doesn’t exactly thrill our regulators or representatives. Congress banned the import of processed Chinese chickens in 2007, ruffling Beijing’s feathers to the point where they’re now considering a retaliatory ban on U.S. chickens. Since we’re in a recession and Congress doesn’t want domestic chicken exporters to lose over a half-billion dollars next year, they may let the Chinese chickens come here to roost.
Remember back when lead toys were all the rage? Oh, those dangerous days, when you couldn’t lick a Dora the Explorer doll without fear of memory loss! Well, Mattel and the Consumer Prouct Safety Commission (CPSC) have reached an agreement on how much Mattel should pay for importing toys that exceeded U.S. lead safety guidelines, and the amount is $2.3 million. Maybe now the CPSC can use some of that money to grease the DC wheels and get their new chair nominee confirmed.
National Journal has an interesting article about the intersection of free trade and globalization with increased food safety abroad and at home. Rather than reject shipments of Chinese fish for being raised in disgusting environments, the US should require trading partners to set and enforce their own strict food safety standards and use globalization as a way to promote better standards worldwide, instead of a race to the bottom.
The Seattle P.I. reports that “two-thirds of the honey Americans consume is imported and almost half of that, regardless of what’s on the label, comes from China.” The first problem with that is some Chinese honey is “tainted with banned antibiotics” such as ciprofloxacin and chloramphenicol. The second problem, according to U.S. honey producers who are upset about the lack of oversight, is that whenever contaminated honey is discovered, many companies just sent it back to the importer and never tell the FDA—which means it can be resold elsewhere, including to other U.S. packers.
Phil found out that you don’t order DVDs from websites that look like this, or that offer sets that aren’t for sale elsehwere. Now his wife is the proud owner of some homemade discs with low-quality TV footage of the series and a “TBS” bug in the corner.
If you’re looking for a photograph to illustrate how our economy has changed over the past few months, take a look at this. No, that’s not a parking lot in a town where everyone has the same taste. It’s the Port of Long Beach, where “thousands of cars worth tens of millions of dollars are being warehoused,” unwanted by the dealers who used to sell them. They’re imports — Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Nissan orphans.