Slow Down At Ports Affect Local Business In The Valley - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Slow Down At Ports Affect Local Business In The Valley

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 YAKIMA, WA.- Recent labor issues at the ports of Seattle and Tacoma have caused major issues for growers shipping goods. It's also affected the people who transport those goods as well.

We spoke with a Grandview man on Wednesday who transports apples and other produce up to the ports. He says with the strike going on he often waits at the ports for hours, just trying to deliver one shipment.

“I leave here at 3:30 in the morning and don't get back home till 8 at night, and that's just taking one container from Grandview to Seattle,” Lyle Mulkins told KNDO.

It used to take Mulkins 5 to 6 hours to transport a truckload of produce to Seattle, but now it takes him an entire day; which is costing him money and the growers who are shipping the produce as well.

Washington Apple Commission President, Todd Fryhover, told us drivers normally make 2 trips from Yakima to Seattle a day, but they're now reduced to making only 2 to 3 trips a week, because of the lines at the port.

“They return to the ports of Seattle and Tacoma and they sit for hours and hours and hours in line and in some cases never do get off loaded,” Fryhover said.

But even if the drivers do make it through the excessive lines by the time they make it back to pick up another shipment, there is no telling whether or not the produce will still be good. 

Mulkins told KNDO other drivers have told him they've seen loads and loads of apples go to waste. 

“They saw 5 or 6 loads of apples up in the Quincy area that were just being thrown out into the fields because they're no good to ship,” Mulkins said.

This on going strike has left growers and truck drivers worried about their business. Apple Commission President Todd Fryhover says about 30 - 35% of their business is international, and conducted through these ports, so the port slow down is hitting the Yakima and Wenatchee businesses hard.  

Fryhover told us about 2 weeks ago a federal mediator was brought in to try to help solve some of the labor issues slowing down the ports, but as of now no agreements have been reached.

So growers and drivers through out Washington will simply have to continue to wait it out and hope business  will return to normal soon.

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