Monday, January 5, 2015
Tension elevated in West Coast labor contract negotiations
Photo Credit: Mark Graves / The Oregonian
West Coast labor negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union became significantly more hostile Friday when both sides accused each other of bad-faith labor tactics, which will likely worsen congestion already plaguing the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.
Although the parties did not state that a strike or a lockout was imminent, the mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach immediately issued a joint statement asking the ILWU and the PMA to avoid escalating the conflict.
"Negotiations resume Monday and it's in no one's interest for either side to take further actions before then," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said in the statement.
"The Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach play a critical role in our regional and national economy, and so those at the table bear a responsibility that extends far beyond the waterfront. The prudent course of action is to keep people working and keep goods moving as negotiations continue," the statement continued.
On January 2, the PMA issued a statement accusing the ILWU of withholding qualified yard crane drivers from their shifts at the Southern California ports. The PMA said that the average number of shifts for qualified crane operators has dropped from an average of more than 110 per day to under 35 per day, resulting in tens of thousands of containers available for discharge sitting on the docks at the twin ports. Employers put in orders for the number of operators needed, and the PMA said the ILWU unilaterally cut back those orders by two-thirds.
In order to clear containers from terminal yards, the PMA said it is reducing the number of workers ordered to unload ships on night shifts to avoid the increased gridlock that the additional unloading of ships would create.
On December 31, the union received notice from the PMA that the number of nighttime work positions would be cut by two-thirds as of Jan. 2. Adán Ortega, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13 of Wilmington, said that the positions affected would include crane operators, drivers, signalmen and dock workers, and would last for an undetermined period of time. If terminal and shipping operators follow the association recommendations, he said it could take significantly longer for ships to be unloaded.
After seven-plus months of confidential negotiations regarding a new dockworker contract for workers at 29 West Coast ports, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association remain far from reaching an agreement on a new contract to replace the one that expired July 1.
Industry insiders report that cargo that usually takes two or three days to clear the ports has faced lag times of up to two weeks, with productivity at some harbors cut by at least half.
Two weeks ago the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents a group of firms that operate the West Coast ports, called for a federal arbitrator to step in to help resolve the contract dispute. The Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service acknowledged the request, but the White House has so far made no response to the plea.
"After seven months of negotiations, we remain far apart on many issues," PMA spokesman Wade Gates said in a prepared statement. "At the same time, the union continues its slowdowns, walk-offs and other actions that are having impacts on shippers, truck drivers and other local workers – with no end in sight. It is clear that the parties need outside assistance to bridge the substantial gap between us."
Last Monday, the union remained silent on outside intervention in negotiations but instead urged greater "direct participation" of shipping executives from the PMA's 11-member board of directors.
"Both sides need the right people in the room to get things finalized," union president and negotiating committee chairman Robert McEllrath said. "Indirect negotiations won't get us over the finish line."
The ILWU, which denies causing the bottlenecks, asserted that the shippers themselves were largely to blame for decisions that have disrupted port operations.
One of the primary problems is a shortage of tractor-trailer chassis, which occurred after shippers outsourced chassis supply and distribution to third-party leasing companies. Another major issue, union and port officials agree, has been the introduction of super-sized container vessels that are overwhelming the capacity of terminals to unload them.
Ports seriously affected by the cargo bottlenecks include Los Angeles and Long Beach, Oakland and Seattle-Tacoma.
For more of the Press Telegram story: presstelegram.com
For more of The Oregonian story: oregonlive.com
For more of the Reuters story: reuters.com
FMC approves vessel-sharing agreements between Ocean Three and Hanjin
The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission has approved a vessel sharing and slot charter agreement between members of the Ocean Three Alliance and Hanjin Shipping on Wednesday.
"I am voting to take no further action on the Hanjin/UASC/CMA CGM/CSLC vessel sharing and slot charter agreement. This agreement is scheduled to become effective on 2 January 2015," said William Doyle, an FMC commissioner, in a statement.
The Ocean Three Alliance was filed in October 2014 and went into immediate effect since its market share met the threshold exemption according to FMC regulations. The Ocean Three Alliance includes United Arab Shipping Company, CMA CGM and China Shipping Container Lines.
The actual service initiated under this agreement, Doyle says, is based on a 2009 agreement between UASC and Hanjin with some limited port and carrier adjustments, and does not involve service under the authority of the Ocean Three Agreement.
According to the FMC statement, the U.S. port rotation of New York, Norfolk and Savannah will now include Miami. Two new international ports added include Mundra and Livorno. Further, Tangier will replace Algeciras. The agreement covers container shipping between the UAE, Pakistan, India, Saudi Arabia, Egypt, France, Spain, Morocco and the U.S. East Coast, sanctioning up to 15 container vessels with capacities of up to 9,500 TEUs.
Port of Long Beach opens temporary empty container depot
The Port of Long Beach announced it has opened a temporary empty container depot on Pier S on Dec. 29 to free up chassis and ease congestion on the docks.
Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals will operate the 30-acre site, the port said.
The Empty Container Depot will free up the chassis for truckers to reuse to pick up new loads and speed up delivery, port officials say.
"Our empty container storage facility is one of several actions we've taken to help relieve congestion, and Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals is a great partner to work with on this initiative," said Jon Slangerup, Port of Long Beach chief executive. "We are committed to providing our stakeholders with as much operational support as possible, and this temporary depot is one way we're doing that."
The congestion is exacerbated by more cargo arriving faster on today's giant ships, as well as a new chassis ownership system that has left some terminals and truckers without the equipment they need.
In addition to opening the Empty Container Depot, the port has facilitated the introduction by private chassis fleets of an additional 3,000 chassis into the local area and identified a plan for the port to operate its own chassis fleet for peak cargo shipping seasons and demand.
Legislators try to revive law to overhaul Port Authority of NY/NJ
Since their governors vetoed a law meant to overhaul the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the center of the George Washington Bridge scandal, New York and New Jersey lawmakers said last week they would try to revive the legislation.
New Jersey Democrats, who control the State House, will make the move sometime in mid-January, possibly close to the time Gov. Chris Christie will deliver his State of the State address on Jan. 13.
"I just felt that this was an issue that was worthy of an override," said Sen. Robert Gordon, a Democrat who co-sponsored the legislation.
In New York, where it is too late for a veto override the vote, Assemblyman Jim Brennan, a Brooklyn Democrat and a leading proponent of the Port Authority bill, plans to reintroduce the same legislation when the next session begins in January, a spokeswoman said. If Gov. Andrew Cuomo vetoes the bill again, legislators would attempt to override the veto, she said.
The governors last week vetoed the legislation that had passed both state legislatures unanimously. The bills were triggered by the George Washington Bridge scandal, in which Fort Lee, N.J. suffered severe traffic for several days in September 2013 because an authority official allegedly arranged the lane closures as political payback against the city's mayor.
Cuomo and Christie proposed their own changes to the agency, saying they want to shake up the agency's governance, recommit the port to regional transportation projects and have it divest its real estate.
Gordon said he supports some of those proposals, but that they don't improve the agency's transparency.
For more of the Wall Street Journal story: wsj.com
Sailor vanishes from cargo ship on Columbia River
A crewman who vanished from a ship on the Columbia River that was docked at the Port of Kalama has still not been found.
The man's flip-flop sandals were found at the railing of the Unico Stella, a Marshall Islands-flagged bulk cargo ship.
The Cowlitz County sheriff's office said it was impossible to determine if he fell, jumped or walked off the ship, but that there is no evidence of a crime. The sheriff is working with U.S. Customs agents to find Kyaw Aung, 37, believed to be from Myanmar.
For more of The Daily News Online story: tdn.com
Tuesday, January 6, 2015
DP World to invest $1.9B to increase capacity in 2015
DP World, the world’s fourth-largest port operator, plans to almost double its investments this year as it increases its capacity by more than 14 percent, according to its chairman.
FedEx, UPS improve on-time holiday delivery rates
FedEx and UPS significantly improved their on-time delivery rates during the last-minute Christmas shopping peak this year compared to last year, according to a report from logistics software firm ShipMatrix.
Study: Port of Virginia contributes $60.3B to state economy
The Port of Virginia is contributing big to the state economy, with an economic impact totaling $60.3 billion in 2013 alone, according to a study released from the College of William & Mary.
Port of Stockton handles record number of ships in 2014
The Port of Stockton handled 230 ships in 2014, an increase of more than 25 percent from the previous record of 182 ships set in 2012, and also up from 181 ship visits logged in 2013.
More than 700 migrants arrive in Corfu by cargo ship
The Italian coast guard saved approximately 728 migrants from a cargo ship near the Greek island of Corfu last week after its crew evidently disappeared.
Wednesday, January 7, 2015
Feds to mediate West Coast port labor talks
On Monday the U.S. Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service issued a statement saying it will help resolve stalled talks between the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents employers, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which represents up to 20,000 dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports.
Panama Canal authority approves new Corozal port
The board of directors of the Panama Canal formally approved the construction of a transshipment port in Panama’s Corozal region. Once completed, the port will be able to handle more than 5 million TEUs within a 296-acre area at the canal’s entrance to the Pacific.
Con-way Multimodal appoints new president
Gregory Orr has been promoted to president of Con-way Multimodal, the freight brokerage arm of Con-way Inc. unit Menlo Logistics, according to a company press release.
Planned Port of L.A. ocean research campus scores $500K grant
Announced Friday, the planned 35-acre AltaSea ocean research complex at the Port of Los Angeles received $500,000 from a local charity with development ties to the proposed revamp of nearby Ports O’ Call Village.
Massive car transporter runs aground off the Isle of Wight
Salvage workers have boarded the 51,000-ton car transporter Hoegh Osaka, which was deliberately run aground by its captain to keep it from sinking in one of the world's busiest shipping lanes.
Thursday, January 8, 2015
S. California trucking company allows port truckers to unionize
The Teamsters, who are seeking to represent truck drivers who work the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, made a deal with a major trucking firm that would allow their drivers to decide whether to unionize, organizers said Tuesday.
Retailers look for options as West Coast port congestion conflict rages on
Nine months after labor talks began, a federal mediator has been appointed to help facilitate collective bargaining between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association, who have been engaged in prolonged negotiations to come up with a new contract for dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports.
ABF Logistics buys Smart Lines Transportation Group for $5M
ABF Logistics, owned by ArcBest, announced it has acquired Smart Lines Transportation Group, a privately held truckload brokerage firm headquartered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, for $5.17 million in cash.
S.C. to spend $5M to offset impact of dredging Charleston Harbor
On Monday, the board of directors of the South Carolina State Ports Authority voted to spend $5 million to help protect the Cooper River corridor and mitigate the environmental impact of deepening Charleston Harbor.
8 missing after cargo ship sinks off Scotland
The Cemfjord, a cargo ship carrying cement, overturned and sank Sunday off the coast of Scotland as the search continued for the missing eight-member crew.