Why is this mountain of apples rotting away in eastern Washington?

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rotting apples

SEATTLE — Distributors say the backup at the Port of Seattle and the Port of Tacoma are causing an economic mess for Washington.

When you are in the business of exporting goods overseas, time is money.

“If the products don’t get there to market for the holiday season the sale won’t be replaced,” F.C Bloxom Company co-owner Bill Bloxom said.

Bloxom buys everything from apples to onions from Washington growers and ships them through the ports to other countries.

“This has been the worst year in my career,” employee Cecilia Rojas said.

Exporters are blaming the port slowdown for the mountain of apples rotting away in the fields of Eastern Washington.

If they are not being left to rot, they end up sitting inside shipment containers going nowhere.

“We’ve got a pier that’s moving three containers an hour and we know they can move up to 20 safely,” Bloxom said.

The Longshoremen Workers Union is still in contract talks with Pacific Maritime Association which represents all the West Coast port operators. PMA says union workers are slowing down deliberately.

“These slowdown tactics are part of the ILWU playbook and they are simply done to influence negotiations,” PMA spokesperson Steve Getzug said.

The union denies a deliberate slow down saying the problem is a sharp increase in volumes of shipment and a shortage of chassis and other equipment.

“Those jobs used to be on the docks, they used to be good paying jobs $25 to $35 an hour and now those companies are looking for cheaper ways to get that work done,” ILWU spokesperson Craig Merilees said.

They have been in contract talks for months with no sign of a resolution.

“I put blame on both of them they are tying up a port that’s a public resource,” Bloxom said.

So far they’ve missed out on shipping 50 containers of produce losing about half a million dollars in revenue.

“While it may not immediately affect the person watching the news it will ultimately result in lower economic return for the entire economy,” Bloxom said.

He is now calling on the president to send in a federal mediator. Both sides are not revealing a lot about contract talks happening behind closed doors. But exporters say the union has been fighting efforts to automate for years.

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19 comments

  • MissHeather

    There are thousands of people across the state that could benefit from the apples being donated versus left to rot in a field! THIS is what the world comes to?
    Just SAD!!!

  • Michael Peterson

    Maybe a class action lawsuite to the ports by the people and businesses will make them to move full speed. I personally had been effected by this slow down by ordering a product from China. It took over a month to get it and it was suppose to be here in less then a week. GET OFF YOUR BUTT AND STOP LOOKING FOR WAYS TO SAVE MONEY!

  • Jazzman75

    The apples are laying on the ground primarily for one reason, they grew too many this year. They grew about 25 million more boxes this year than next highest record crop year. They started piling them on the ground earlier in the fall, long before the port problem arose.

    • Orchard

      Juice apples get much less per pound and do not pay the bills for the growers. fresh market apples is where farmers can make enough money to pay their bills at the end of the year.

  • ko

    Greed? The greed is on the part of the employers, as usual, who really don’t care if anyone can make a living. They just want more more more for themselves.

  • Rick Mullen

    My company repairs and cleans imported products from China, and due to the slowdowns, our November and December business is down 75%. Might not make it to February, after 10 very successful years!

  • Art Mensonides

    Just do what president Reagan did when the air controller’s went on strike……….Fire them all and replace with new workers!

  • Lawrence Beerbower

    If you want the situation resolved fire the Union.
    It is causing the problem and hurting business. So fire them all and hire people who will do the job and get it done.
    Also in regards to the produce laying on the ground it would have been more beneficial to move it into the local state side markets and temporarily flood the local markets than for it to just go to waste.

  • Steve Baker

    Seriously…the apples portrayed in this picture are not fit for consumption. No apples are rotting on trees. This is just an overabundance of culls that the juicing industry cannot process. The apple sheds have an immense capability to store fruit until the union goons get their way.
    As to the core issue I see this nonsense every day in my federal job, union goons getting greedy for themselves, not their “brothers”, just themselves.

    • Jake

      Go figure another article quoting the lies of an employer who is holding import and export shipments on terminal since October. Its sad to see American people turn against American workers in favor of foreign corporations. Remember if it was not for unions , alot of the rights American workers have today would not be here. Do people actually think their employer always speak the truth? Why is it that most of the press has already choosen the side they think is right, instead of actually doing some investigative reporting? Im sure if they did they would see the truth. The employer in this case is quick to flood the media with false information so that the truth when it finally does come out will be buried by all the lies that were told. So. Please investigate, do your job, and print the truth instead of helping companies worth billions get what they want. Here is a great start a little tip if you will.. how is it that it is the ilwu’s fault loads have been on the docks for months on end. Hmmm maybe point the finger in the right direction first. I know its hard when you have foreign companies worth billions hand feeding articles to news organizations that dont seem to care that our nation has lost its way. But hey they all have jobs they r happy with just like you are and want nothing more for their futures or that of their children.

  • Jake

    Wow speak of the devil… Looks like the Tacoma News Tribune is starting to ask some of the right questions. Please start asking the employer that supposedly always tells the truth, questions instead of listening to the crap they want you to hear.

  • Steve

    I hope the highest paid union workers in the US. get replaced by technology and robotics and the greedy union can be gone they’ve cost millions in bussiness loss due to there selfish greed its rotten with corruption!