Cargo Business Newswire Archives
Summary for January 5 through January 9, 2015:

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:

For more of The Oregonian story:

For more of the Reuters story:

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.
"At this time it appears that the Agreement is not likely, through a reduction in competition, to result in an unreasonable increase in transportation service or an unreasonable increase in transportation costs," Doyle said.

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 depot is scheduled to close March 31, 2015, once the cargo backlog is cleared.

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:

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:


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.

The multinational corporation intends to spend between $1.4 billion and $1.9 billion this year, up from $1 billion last year, said DP World Chair Sultan Ahmed bin Sulayem,. The Dubai company will invest between $500 million and $700 million from 2016 to 2020, he said.

Capacity at DP World is forecast to rise to more than 80 million TEUs this year, up from last year’s 70 million due to expansions at Jebel Ali in Dubai, Turkey, Rotterdam and India locations. The firm plans to boost capacity to 100 million TEUs by 2020.

"Our balance sheet is strong and we continue to generate high levels of cash flow, giving us the ability to invest in the future growth of our current portfolio," said Sulayem.

For more of the The National story:

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.

The report said the package shipping giants were successful in avoiding 2013’s shipping disasters due to improved planning and better weather. ShipMatrix analyzed the on-time performance rates of FedEx and UPS for packages that had been promised for delivery by December 24th. This year, each company delivered 98 percent of express packages on time by Christmas Eve, a sharp improvement over 2013, when FedEx’s on-time performance was 90 percent and UPS’s was 83 percent.

FedEx and UPS each hired about 10,000 more seasonal workers this year than last year and urged retailers to provide more accurate estimates how many packages they’d be shipping.

For more of the Washington Post story:

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.

After three months of research and analysis, professors Ray Pearson and K. Scott Swan at the college's Mason School of Business found that the port contributes to Virginia's economy in three primary ways. First, through the transportation of export and import cargo within Virginia and across it from other states and countries; second, through the export of goods made in Virginia; and third, through the added processing and distribution of imports retained in the state.

According to the latest figures, in the past seven years the port's spending has increased 47 percent to $60.3 billion; employee compensation was $1.75 billion, up 30 percent.

The study also found nearly 375,000 Virginians have jobs directly or indirectly related to the port.

According to port director John Reinhart and port officials, the latest study cost the port about $109,000.

For more of the Inside Biz story:

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.

Port Director Richard Aschieris said this week that steel imports made the biggest difference at the inland port.

"We are seeing a lot more steel activity in the past year, which is probably a reflection of more construction work in the public works sector or the private sector," he said.

Cargo totals measured in metric tons showed a strong gain to 4.1 million metric tons, up from 3 million metric tons in 2013.

For more of the Record Net story:

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.

Italian authorities took control of the cargo ship on Tuesday after the crew disappeared and set it on a programmed route to crash into the coast, officials said.

The migrants, mainly from Syria, arrived in the Gallipoli port of southeast Italy last week where emergency crew, Italian Red Cross workers and police were at the scene.

The police will investigate how the migrants came to be hidden on the Blue Sky M as it sailed to the Croatian port of Rijeka.

For more of the Al Jazeera story:


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.

Federal mediators have proven to help management and labor move beyond impasses in past contract disputes. The National Retail Federation said it welcomed the news of federal intervention.

"After months of heated rhetoric and increasing congestion, this is the first positive news from the West Coast ports in some time," the retail group said in a statement.

Citing big differences in issues including wages and work rules, the PMA requested federal assistance in negotiations last month.

The union resisted arbitration at first, but the federal mediation agency said Monday it would get involved based upon "a joint request for assistance."

In its statement, the service said Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh "has been assigned to help the parties bring these important negotiations to a mutually acceptable resolution."

As a rule, the FMCS said it does not release information regarding future meeting dates and locations and will not comment at this time regarding the status of the negotiations.

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.

The project awaits the final approval from Panama’s National Assembly.

The two-phase port project will include the construction of a 2,081-linear-meter-dock, a container yard, offices and warehouse facilities within a 120-hectare area owned by the Panama Canal.

The first phase will include 6,800 linear feet of docks, three docking positions for Post-Panamax vessels, and handling capacity of about 3 million TEUs.

With the Expanded Canal, demand on the Pacific side is expected to reach a capacity of 6 million TEUs, and achieve an 8-million-TEU capacity by 2020.

For more of the Merco Press story:

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.

Orr, formerly Con-way Multimodal’s vice president of operations, will be responsible for leading the Frisco, Texas-based company’s growth and strategic development.

He joined the company as general manager of its Portland, Oregon, operation in 2008. Previously, he worked at Greatwide Dedicated Transport, Schneider Logistics and Wal-Mart Stores.

"Greg’s leadership and transportation operating experience are key to the growth and success we have experienced at Con-way Multimodal," said Gary Kowalski, Menlo Logistics’ chief operating officer.

Transport Topics ranks Con-way Inc. No. 4 on its top 100 list of U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers. Con-way Multimodal provides over-the-road, intermodal, flatbed, heavy-haul and specialized transportation resources.

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.

The Crail-Johnson Foundation, which serves children’s programs in the San Pedro area, donated the funds for the construction.

AltaSea is envisioned as "a cutting-edge urban ocean laboratory, redefining the interface between marine research, technology, industry and K-12 education," according to Eric Johnson, who oversees the foundation with brother Alan. The brothers are principals at Jerico Development, the real estate firm that is part of the L.A. Waterfront Alliance selected to redevelop Ports O’ Call along San Pedro’s waterfront.

At least $82 million for the project has been raised through contributions from the Port of Los Angeles and The Annenberg Foundation. Another $53.2 million is needed by January 2017 to begin construction on the first phase, which is to include seawater laboratories, offices, a lecture hall and an interpretative center.

For more of the Daily Breeze story:

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.

The coast guard safely rescued 25 crewmembers of the Singapore-registered cargo vessel.

The massive vessel was grounded on the Bramble Bank between Southampton and the Isle of Wight after it sailed from the Hampshire port. It had a cargo of 1,400 cars, including 1,200 Jaguars and Land Rovers, and 80 pieces of construction equipment.

The cargo is reportedly worth more that $150 million.

For more of the ITV story:


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.

Drivers that work for Shippers Transport Express, owned by SSA Marine, and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said they would hold a press conference in Wilmington on Friday to validate their union authorization cards, opening the door for the Teamsters to begin negotiating a contract, according to Justice for Port Drivers and the Teamsters.

Under the agreement, the company chose to move from an independent contractor model to an employee-based drayage business starting Jan. 1. The independent contractor model has been a thorny issue for some drivers at other trucking firms who claimed the model allowed firms to skirt labor laws and avoid paying fair wages.

For more of the Press-Telegram story:

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.

Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the ILWU, said a representative from the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service was scheduled to arrive Tuesday of this week.

The PMA has accused union workers of deliberate slowdowns at West Coast ports, and the union counters that the backups are due to other issues such as a chronic chassis shortage and the time it takes to load and unload the larger volumes from super-sized container ships.

Jonathan Gold with the National Retail Federation says retailers have been switching to alternate routes, even though it costs more, to avoid West Coast port backlogs.

"Air cargo is eight to ten times more expensive than ocean freight, but some — especially when you look at apparel and fashion and footwear — went to air cargo because they had to get the product to the store shelves," Gold said.

Gold says some other retailers are still importing by cargo ship but are using ports in British Columbia, Canada or on the U.S. East Coast instead. He notes some retailers have opted to stop using U.S. West Coast ports altogether.

For more of the KPLU story:

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.

Smart Lines, founded in 2003, has 24 employees and approximately $18 million in annual revenue, primarily serving the food, energy and industrial segments. The acquisition will expand ABF Logistics into the Oklahoma City market, according to the statement.

"The purchase of Smart Lines Transportation Group is an important step in our strategy to grow the emerging businesses at ArcBest and provide a variety of supply chain services to our customers in the way they expect," said ABF Logistics President Jim Ingram. "We believe the talent pool in Oklahoma City is vibrant and thriving, making it an ideal location for ABF Logistics’ first branch outside the Fort Smith area. We have plans to aggressively expand this branch and are excited about the growth prospects ahead."

The statement said Smart Lines founder Greg Roush has been named branch director of the Oklahoma City location, now known as ABF Logistics. He has 30 years of experience in the trucking industry, primarily in the truckload segment.

"Smart Lines is a natural fit for ABF Logistics as we both promote a strong customer centric focus," Roush said. "Our current and future customers are gaining greater access to more resources through ABF Logistics and its sister companies ABF Freight and Panther Premium Logistics. We’re excited to become part of the broader ArcBest team, with its reputation for going above and beyond to solve complex transportation needs."

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.

The money will be placed into an escrow account, to be used to purchase and conserve land along the watershed in a new collaboration with the Lowcountry Open Land Trust, the Coastal Conservation League and the Southern Environmental Law Center, the agency said.

The land trust would oversee spending from the escrow account, and the money would come from funds the General Assembly has set aside for the dredging.

"Today is a day that we say yes to both conservation and business - that they can be married together," Gov. Nikki Haley told about 100 state business and environmental leaders when the collaboration was announced.

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.

Seven Poles and one Filipino were on board the Cypriot-registered ship, which capsized around 15 miles from Wick on the northeast tip of Scotland.

Two helicopters, four lifeboats and five coastguard rescue teams are involved in the search for survivors.

For more of the Yahoo story:



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