Businesses feel hangover from West Coast port dispute

SAN FRANCISCO -- Although the West Coast ports labor dispute has been settled, businesses are still suffering.

Some 700 tons of trash a day is sorted at San Francisco's Recology recycling center. It keeps coming in, but not going out, leading to 1,000 pound paper bales piled sky-high. Scrap metal that usually ships out in three days has been untouched for a month.

Recology spokesman Robert Reed says the mountain has moved into the parking lot.

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Mounds of recycling material piles up at Recology in San Francisco
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"Because we are having trouble shipping it, we're storing it," Reed told me. "We're baling it, then we're stacking the bales 5 high until we're able to then get them back on the ships and get that moving again."

The bales are sent to Asia and re-made into everything from cereal boxes to stationary. Export recycling is a $20 billion a year business in the U.S., but exporters aren't paid when the goods are stuck in port.

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Bales of paper are stacking up due to shipping delays caused by a labor dispute
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At his family's scrap metal business in Los Angeles, Doug Kramer cut back hours and benefits but it wasn't enough.

"We've cut employees, which is incredibly painful to do," said Kramer.

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Doug Kramer
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Kramer is losing money and future business. He says he knows his overseas consumers are looking elsewhere.

"The global supply chain is not going to stop because the U.S. West Coast ports are screwing around," said Kramer.

There is a two to three month backup at the port Kramer uses. The business has been in his family for three generation and he's worried there won't be a fourth.