Cargo Business Newswire ArchivesSummary for February 23 through February 27, 2015:
Monday, February 23, 2015
CBN West Coast Update: PMA and ILWU make a deal
Photo credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times
On Friday night, the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union announced that they have reached a tentative agreement on a new five-year contract for dockworkers at 29 West Coast ports, according to a joint statement. No details were revealed.
"After more than nine months of negotiations, we are pleased to have reached an agreement that is good for workers and for the industry," said PMA President James McKenna and ILWU President Bob McEllrath in the statement. "We are also pleased that our ports can now resume full operations."
The press release acknowledged that the deal, subject to ratification by both parties, was reached with assistance from U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service Deputy Director Scot Beckenbaugh.
"We thank the ILWU and PMA and look forward to everyone getting back to business as usual starting immediately," said Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Jon Slangerup. "We know that the marine terminal operators, longshore workers, truckers, railroads and others will be extremely busy as they work to clear out the massive backlog of cargo at all of the West Coast ports, including Long Beach. All of us will be working together to make this happen as soon as possible, but once again, we are extremely pleased with today’s news."
Oakland dockworkers shut down port Thursday
Amid contentious West Coast contract talks, Oakland dockworkers took the day off Thursday for a monthly union meeting that has traditionally been held at night.
No workers showed up for the 8 a.m.-5 p.m. shift at the Oakland port on Thursday, and the ensuing shutdown prevented import containers from being moved from 12 waiting ships onto trucks or rail.
The 28 other West Coast ports stayed open Thursday.
"The decision not to work is damaging to shippers who rely on the Port of Oakland to move their cargo, and to the thousands of people who depend on the port for their livelihood," said John Driscoll, the port’s maritime director. "Disruptions such as this one cripple our ability to support global trade and the economy of the Bay Area."
Port officials said the meeting was deliberately held during work hours, seemingly in an apparent attempt to punish the Pacific Maritime Association, which has cut night operations, weekend and holiday work to avoid paying overtime to longshore workers.
Union insiders, who spoke on condition of anonymity because of a federal information blackout, said the terminal operators were notified about the day meeting on Feb. 3, giving them plenty of time to prepare.
Alaska’s Port of Nome may be expanded to serve Arctic ships
The U.S. Army Corps is poised to reveal the first steps for expanding deep-water ports to serve Arctic trade ships. They said their main focus will be to expand the existing Port of Nome.
"The report is making the recommendation for construction at Nome at this time, basically due to its highly developed area, having a good runway, good hospital, (and the) strong support that’s already there," said Bruce Sexauer, chief of the Alaska Army Corps’ civil works branch.
The Corps envisions a system of deeper ports to be developed throughout Western Alaska.
Sexauer reports that increased traffic in the Bering Strait and growing resource extraction in the Arctic — including prospective oil and gas development in the Chukchi and Beaufort Seas — necessitates a focus on Arctic ports, starting with Nome.
The full Corps report will be released to the public by the end of next week.
Crowley helps U.S. Army provide Ebola relief in Africa
Crowley Maritime provided warehousing, trucking and emergency shipping through the Defense Logistics Agency and to the U.S. Army in Senegal and Liberia to combat the Ebola virus.
The company supported 3,000 U.S. troops and helped construct 17 Ebola treatment centers.
"Crowley has unique capabilities," said Bleu Hilburn, director of logistics for Crowley. "We have all of the traditional ocean shipping and trucking capabilities, but we also have special logistics capabilities well-suited for disaster relief."
One important solution Crowley provided was shipping 640 containers worth of building materials and medical supplies for the treatment centers.
"Now they have clinics, where they can be treated in sanitary conditions and stay isolated so they're not spreading the disease," Hilburn said. "It's a much better situation."
West Coast ports and dockworkers start clearing backlog
Photo Credit: Patrick T. Fallon/Bloomberg
After the Pacific Maritime Association and the International Longshore and Warehouse Association made a tentative deal Friday on a new 5-year contract for West Coast port dockworkers, ports and dockworkers started tackling the cargo backlog with a vengeance.
"They’ve turned the firehose on," said Jon Slangerup, chief executive officer of the Port of Long Beach, in a telephone interview with Bloomberg. He said the PMA and the ILWU are "committed to digging out of this as quickly as possible."
At the local ILWU hall in Wilmington, Calif., 1,500 jobs were posted for Saturday’s night shift, up from the usual 800 to 1,000, according to the ILWU local’s president, Mondo Porras.
The parties reached a deal on Friday after nearly nine months of negotiations. U.S. Labor Secretary Tom Perez turned up the heat on the talks last week, reportedly telling both sides if they couldn’t come to an agreement by Friday, he would move the talks to Washington D.C., a venue that would highlight the damage being done to national trade and the U.S. economy.
Under the compromise Perez brokered, a panel will hear workplace grievances, instead of a single arbitrator. The two sides had been stuck on the issue of how arbitration would work after a contract is in place.
The extreme cargo congestion at the West Coast ports, exacerbated by labor conflict slowdowns and shift cuts, was also the result of backups from inefficient loading of the supersized container ships and a lack of truck chassis, according to Slangerup.
Ports were bustling with activity over the weekend on the West Coast with one exception — the Port of Oakland. According to the Associated Press, PMA spokesman Steve Getzug said an arbitrator found that Oakland longshoremen from ILWU Local 10 "took part in illegal work stoppages that included taking breaks at the same time, among other actions reducing productivity Sunday." The port reportedly resumed normal operations Sunday night.
"The Pacific Maritime Association will continue to address any future work stoppages by Local 10 through the grievance and arbitration process, and, if necessary, in court," the PMA said in a statement.
It will take six to eight weeks for West Coast ports to recover from the cargo backlog, according to the Port of Oakland and the National Retail Federation.
Port Metro Vancouver truckers call for new commissioner to resign
Unifor, the union representing container truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver, is calling for the resignation of the new container trucking commissioner due to his alleged close ties to port employers.
Andy Smith is the president of the B.C. Maritime Employer's Association, which represents and bargains on behalf of employers at the port. Smith was appointed by the B.C. government as the new container trucking commissioner earlier this month as someone with experience who could deliver stability to the sector.
Unifor objects to the appointment, asserting Smith is the wrong choice because he's president of a group that represents management, which amounts to a conflict of interest.
"You can't be a referee and play on one of the teams," said Unifor director Gavin McGarrigle. "The issues facing truckers are just too important to have this cloud hanging over it."
Smith will oversee the truck licensing system and set the rate for drivers working the port.
State legislators continue push for bill to reform Port Authority of NY/NJ
Although the board of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey insist they can clean their own house in the wake of Bridgegate, legislators in both states are pushing for reform bills to improve transparency and accountability at the PANYNJ.
PANYNJ commissioners voted to start implementing their own governance changes, as Democrats in the N.J. senate are working to override Gov. Christie’s veto of the reform bill that passed both states’ legislatures unanimously last year. That bill would subject the Port Authority to court-enforceable open-meeting laws and require commissioners to testify before either legislature, among other changes.
Governors Christie and Andrew Cuomo issued their vetoes in late December, saying they wanted the Port Authority to instead follow the recommendations of a special panel consisting of three of the commissioners and the governors’ lawyers.
N.J. Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D-Gloucester) said he would schedule multiple override attempts despite the fact that Republican legislators are reluctant to provide enough votes to overturn Christie’s veto. In New York the bill has been reintroduced after expiring at the end of last year.
The full Port Authority board voted last week to accept almost all of the special panel recommendations, most importantly the switch to a single CEO.
EPA and Customs find illegal engines at L.A./Long Beach
EPA and customs officials said Thursday they will increase inspections at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach after discovering hundreds of imported vehicles, engines and other equipment that don’t comply with U.S. emissions standards.
Between June and September of 2014 at the nation’s largest port complex, EPA inspectors and U.S. CBP officers found more than 730 foreign-made motorcycles, all-terrain vehicles, gas-powered generators and other equipment that lacked proper pollution controls required under the federal Clean Air Act.
EPA officials said the violations were prevalent enough that they will now hold monthly inspections at the ports.
Now that the West Coast labor contract is at least tentatively settled, pending ILWU ratification, shippers still face a host of issues on sea, land and air.
On the sea, shippers have concerns about the European Commission’s pending amendments to the European Union’s advance cargo data reporting requirements, scheduled for adoption this year. These proposed amendments are part of the new Union Customs Code that might be adopted in May and could take effect as early as May 1, 2016.
But here’s the rub: The World Shipping Council is objecting to a "significant change" in the proposed reporting requirements. WSC and other shippers and forwarders say the EC proposal is "a short-cut way to obtain the identity of the ‘buyer’ and ‘seller’ of imported goods before vessel loading." This could lead to the disclosure of sensitive business information, WSC says.
Buyers and sellers are the parties to a merchandise sale and purchase agreement, WSC continued, and "such parties are not relevant to and are not named in the transportation contracts that carriers and forwarder/NVOCCs as transportation service providers are party to. This information typically is not in the possession of a carrier, and the entry summary declaration (ENS) - derived from a bill of lading - was never intended to contain it."
Because buyer and seller data may be confidential information, "it is not appropriate to require its disclosure to ocean carriers/NVOCCs or to these parties’ consignees, who may not be parties to the goods’ sales contract."
WSC was joined in opposing the EC proposals by the European Shippers’ Council, the European freight forwarders’ association (CLECAT), and the European Community Shipowners Association (ECSA).
In the air, shippers are pleased with the growing momentum for so-called all-in rates, expecting that more airlines will follow the lead set by Emirates and Qatar Airways, who were recently joined by IAG Cargo and SAS Scandinavian Airlines.
An all-in price is a price for a product or service that includes everything, with no additional charges. Joost van Doesburg, the European Shippers’ Council's head of air freight policy, was quoted in a news report that "we’re likely to see a snowball effect now. With IAG (British Airways and Iberia) and SAS, we now have five airlines that have announced a shift to an all-in system. We know that some other European airlines, big ones, are thinking in this direction too."
If all-in pricing catches on, a fairer and more transparent system could result, van Doesburg said. "What we've objected to and for some time now, is airlines' policy of unjustifiably maintaining the fuel surcharge when oil prices were falling significantly."
Under the all-in system, rates will be published twice a year and be valid for a period of six months, or for one year in some cases. "Shippers will know what they'll be paying (in the foreseeable future) and therefore have the visibility over their costs that has been sadly lacking under the present system," van Doesburg said.
On land, the "capacity crunch" is more like being between a rock and hard place for shippers. Mike Mulqueen of Manhattan Associates says capacity issues are "most prevalent in the long-haul, truckload segment of the market…today, the asset-based trucking companies are not yet convinced that they can profitably add capacity, even as demand for their services increase." Recruiting and retaining qualified drivers remain big problems, and the cost of equipment continues to rise. This means higher costs for shippers.
Instead of paying higher rates, Mulqueen says many shippers are focusing on how to change their business processes in order to be "carrier-friendly," by implementing "process improvements that make carriers want to haul their freight." For example, shippers can ensure that driver facilities are clean, comfortable and well-maintained, while also allowing drivers to use their yard if they are out of hours. Shippers that treat their carriers’ drivers respectfully are given preferential treatment.
Will that lead to better rates?
Mayors of L.A. and Long Beach vow to increase ports’ efficiency
Now that a tentative agreement has been reached on a contract for West Coast dockworkers, the mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced Monday that their cities will coordinate more closely to clear the cargo backlog and reclaim the good reputation of the busiest port complex in the U.S.
In a joint press release, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia said they had submitted an efficiency proposal to the Federal Maritime Commission requesting that they be allowed to collaborate on several supply chain issues.
The issues raised in the plan include better coordination of vessel calls, particularly of high volume, supersized ships and positioning truck chassis so that they are available when needed, the mayors said.
Officials at the two ports "plan to redouble our efforts to invest in port infrastructure, increase trade and ensure that we remain the best place to do business on the West Coast," according to Garcia.
"Our ports share second-to-none infrastructure, a highly skilled labor force and unparalleled industry assets — and by working together, we can maximize our global competitiveness and local economic impact," said Garcetti.
Trouble brews at Port of Portland days after contract accord reached
Days after a tentative contract agreement was reached for West Coast dockworkers, terminal operator ICTSI Oregon at the Port of Portland is accusing the ILWU local of engaging in an illegal work stoppage.
ICTSI Oregon, which operates Terminal 6, said on Monday the local union is not making a good faith effort to increase productivity to acceptable levels there.
In a statement issued Monday afternoon, the terminal operator also said, "Additionally, the ILWU is failing to provide sufficient labor for needed container vessel and barge operations at the terminal. For example, the PMA today found that the ILWU engaged in an illegal work stoppage by failing to provide labor on Sunday, February 22, 2015, for the Hanjin Copenhagen. ICTSI Oregon is disappointed that the ILWU is continuing to purposely disrupt Terminal 6 operations and impact business in the Portland region."
Jennifer Sargent, a spokeswoman for the local IWLU union, said the ICTSI statements regarding work stoppages were inaccurate.
"ICTSI arbitrarily fired entire crews of workers this week and then complained that no one was working," Sargent said. "The fact is, ICTSI is failing to thrive in the United States because of its own managerial shortcomings, and desperately trying to blame others for its own mistakes."
"ICTSI's poor decisions and rogue attitude have chased away two major customers in Portland and alienated their peers in the industry. If ICTSI spent as much time improving operations as they spend complaining to the media, our region would have a more productive container terminal by now."
Hanjin Shipping, the port’s largest container carrier, announced it would stop serving the port after March 9 because of the chronic labor problems there.
The port operator and the union local blame each other for the loss of the company, which is responsible for approximately 80 percent of the shipments at Terminal 6, Oregon's only container port.
Proposed Arctic railway could open up Nordic trade
Business interests in the northern reaches of Nordic countries are lobbying for a new Arctic railway line.
Rail access from northern Finland to the Norwegian Arctic coast would open a new base for industrial development in the Nordic countries, they say.
The prospective railway plans are being made as Arctic sea ice melts and opens up new shipping routes. A rail link from Finland to the Norwegian Arctic coast would boost transportation of a wide range of goods, including ores from Finland and Sweden and deposits and export commodities from the Baltic countries, according to project proponents.
For Norway, the railway could become a "rolling pipeline" for the transportation of Norwegian liquefied natural gas to the European market, according to Felix Tschudi, chief executive officer of the Tschudi Shipping.
Maersk to pass on $6.6B to investors after selling bank stake
Photo credit: Reuters/Michael Kooren
Shipping and oil giant A.P. Moller-Maersk will deliver a $6.6 billion windfall in dividends this year to shareholders after it sells its 20 percent stake in Denmark's biggest bank, Danske.
The parent company of the world's largest container shipping company said it would sell 15 percent to its controlling shareholder, the Moller family foundation, noting the deal guaranteed Danske remained in Danish hands. Maersk Group will offer the remaining 5 percent to other existing Maersk shareholders.
The corporation didn’t say how much the foundation would pay for the 15 percent Danske stake, but said it would correspond to $5.5 billion. The $5.5 billion will go to shareholders at about 1,569 crowns ($238) a share, Maersk said, and it also proposed dividends of $1.1 billion for the 2014 business year, or $300 a share.
Maersk's shares increased 6.5 percent by 4:00 a.m. Wednesday.
"It is to ensure the long-term ownership of Danske Bank and ensure the bank's roots in Danish society," said Ana Uggle, the granddaughter of Maersk's founder and head of the foundation.
Hapag-Lloyd: West Coast port delays won’t effect results
German shipping giant Hapag-Lloyd says U.S. West Coast delays won’t substantively effect its results.
Retailers and manufacturers will be the ones who are most harmed by the backlog on the Hapag Lloyds’s trans-Pacific trade route, the company said. The National Retail Federation has predicted the ports would take six to eight weeks to clear the cargo congestion.
"Hapag-Lloyd isn’t seeing massive declines in a way that it is jeopardizing our results," said spokesman Nils Haupt, without providing figures. "It is particularly dramatic for manufacturers, whose goods need to reach a destination at a fixed date."
The container line generated $1.8 billion in revenue from trans-Pacific trade in 2013, making it the company’s most important trade route, followed by the Atlantic, Latin America and the Far East.
The carrier canceled 36 sailings between North America and Asia in the three months to May 17, it said on Feb. 18. All vessels affected are operated by G6 alliance partners APL, Nippon Yusen Kaisha and Orient Overseas Container Line, according to Haupt. "We have storage capacity on those vessels," he said.
At 17 percent, Hapag-Lloyd has the lowest capacity on the Far East-North America route among all G6 partners, said Thomas Wybierek, a shipping analyst at Germany’s Norddeutsche Landesbank.
Hapag-Lloyd doesn’t expect to turn a profit until next year. It intends to launch an initial public offering at the end of this year or in 2016, following its merger with Chilean container line CSAV last year.
Crowley Maritime moves regional operations to JaxPort
The Crowley Maritime Corporation is relocating all of its regional operations to the Port of Jacksonville.
Under the new lease, Crowley will relocate its Puerto Rican service from its private terminal to JaxPort’s Tallyrand Terminal. Crowley will use the port’s electric container cranes to load and unload new, LNG-powered ships.
The company’s workers will be retrained for operations at JaxPort, according to CEO Thomas Crowley.
"The mode of the operations will change as we convert from the barges to the ships, but our labor force is very versatile," he said. "It will require some effort on our part, but we don’t see any dramatic impact to the workforce."
Crowley will also have 50 acres of leased space at the Tallyrand Terminal. The 20-year lease will go into effect Jan. 1, 2017.
Mexico’s container volume up 17 percent in January
Container traffic at Mexico's ports grew 16.8 percent in January year-over-year, according to the country’s transport and telecommunications ministry.
The national port system handled almost 440,000 TEUs in January, compared to some 376,000 in January 2014.
In 2014, Mexico’s container volume increased 4 percent to 5 million TEUs.
Mexican ports are posting tepid growth compared with ports in other Latin American countries, according to the regional UN agency Eclac. The agency cited Mexico’s lack of standardization methods, noting that logistics firms prefer using ports in other countries in the region because of the time it takes for containers in transit to be checked through Mexican ports.
Mexico’s largest container ports are Manzanillo, Lázaro Cárdenas and Veracruz, which collectively account for more than 80 percent of the TEUs shipped in Mexico. Containerized cargo volumes grew 11.8 percent at Manzanillo in 2014, but fell 5.2 percent at Lázaro Cárdenas and 2.3 percent at Veracruz.
U.S.-based port operator SSA Marine is building a container terminal at the port of Tuxpan in Veracruz state, and is planning a second facility. The one that’s currently in process — the port's first — will have a capacity of 900,000 TEUs per-year.