Labor woes at West Coast seaports endanger exports of Washington's record apple crop

Economic IndicatorsAssociated Press

Growers say labor woes at major West Coast sea ports have slowed the export of a record crop of Washington apples and endangered big Christmas season shipments of the fruit to Central America.

Delays have also hit shipments of autos, smartphones and numerous other products as longshoremen and shippers try to hammer out a new contract involving work at 29 West Coast ports.

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The slowdown comes at a critical time of year, as other shipments of holiday goods arrive from Asia and await distribution across the country.

Washington grows the most apples in the nation and this year produced a huge crop of about 155 million, 40-pound boxes — 35 percent more than usual.

Growers say apples would have to leave port by the end of November to reach stores in Central America in time for the holiday.