NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) – A possible strike of dock workers all along the East Coast could bring the supply chain of goods to a screeching halt.

The timing of a possible strike by the longshoremen would also likely impact the holiday shopping season.

The dock workers at ports from Maine to Texas are in a contract dispute with shipping companies.

WCBS 880’s Monica Miller reports

“The biggest potential problem is making sure that the retailers have their products on the shelves for the holiday season,” Jonathan Gold with the National Retail Federation told WCBS 880’s Monica Miller.

Gold said some retailers are working on contingency plans like shipping products by air, rerouting them to the West Coast or stocking them earlier than usual.

“Unfortunately, all of those contingencies plans come at a great expense to the retailer,” Gold said. “They have specific in-store deadlines that they have to meet and if the ports are shut down because of a strike or a lockout, that means those goods are not able to get to where they need to be,” he told Miller.

Gold said a 2002 West Coast longshoremen lockout had a long-term impact.

“The impact on the economy was about $1 billion a day of for the 10-day lockout and it took over six months for the ports and the economy to fully recover,” Gold said.

The contract is set to expire by the end of the month.

The longshoremen union and shipping companies are expected to return to the negotiating table and meet with federal mediators next week.

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