Tuesday, October 08, 2002

Tristate feeling lockout's ripples

Firms worry over continuation

The Cincinnati Enquirer

        Ripples from the dock lockout continued to buffet the Tristate on Monday, with companies worried about how long the labor impasse might continue and how its effects could grow stronger.

        Officials with Erlanger-based Toyota Motor Manufacturing North America said that the company was able to partly reopen its plant in Fremont, Calif., Monday, although the truck assembly line remains closed.

        “We were able to get some parts in through air freight over the weekend,” company spokesman Dan Sieger said.

        He also confirmed that the company had canceled overtime

        at all its facilities, but said that there was no immediate threat of shutdowns. He said it was too early to provide an estimate on the cost of the shutdown to Toyota.

        Cincinnati's Federated Department Stores - the nation's largest department-store retailer - said it already had made contingency plans to route goods to its stores in case the port shut down.

        “Knowing there was potential for this type of situation, Federated expedited as many early shipments as possible,” said Mary Ann Shawmeker, a Federated spokeswoman.

        Federated stores, including Bloomingdale's, Macy's and Lazarus, have already received “virtually all October merchandise,” Ms. Shawmeker said.

        But some holiday season merchandise is still on ships in transit to the West Coast ports, she said.

        The stakes are high for retailers such as Federated, which generate as much as a quarter of their annual sales during the final three months of the year. They could lose sales if stores can't be adequately supplied during the holiday period.

        CSX Transportation, which operates a major rail yard in Queensgate, last week placed a moratorium on all international shipments heading to the West Coast on its lines, and that remains in place.

        DHL Worldwide Express, the world leader in the air freight industry, operates its lone domestic hub locally. But company officials said that while there have been some increases in shipments from Asia coming through the local facility, it was not as much as the company expected.

        Staff writers James Pilcher and Randy Tucker contributed to this report.


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