Cargo Business Newswire ArchivesSummary for March 14 through March 18, 2016:
Monday, March 14, 2016
Featured Story: The Cold Chain Market Heats Up
By William DiBenedetto, CBN Feature Editor
An efficient global cold chain is more crucial than ever, because despite sluggish freight market conditions, the chill part of the equation is experiencing explosive growth. As the world population continues to increase, more and more people depend on access to temperature-controlled food and pharmaceutical products.
A recent Zion Research report, "Cold Chain Market for Fruits & Vegetables, Bakery & Confectionery, Dairy & Frozen Desserts, Meat, Fish & Seafood, and Other End-users: Global Industry Perspective, Comprehensive Analysis, Size, Share, Growth, Segment, Trends and Forecast, 2014–2020" estimates that the global cold chain market was worth $110.2 billion in 2014 and forecast it will post a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 13.9 percent between 2015 and 2020. This will bring the market value to about $271.9 billion in 2020.
In terms of volume, the report said the global cold chain market stood at 552.09 million cubic meters in 2014.
The cold chain, a temperature-controlled supply chain that involves the storage and transportation of temperature-sensitive perishable goods, offers a series of storage and distribution options to maintain cargo at desired temperatures as it makes its way to market. The cold chain helps to preserve and extend the shelf life of various products, including sea food, agricultural produce, frozen food, pharmaceuticals, and related products.
Food and pharmaceuticals are the major end-user industries of cold chain services, and rapid growth in the frozen food market is also expected to drive demand. This market is faced with the increasing need for efficient storage systems for perishable goods in order to avoid wastage of food and pharma products.
Meat, fish and seafood dominated the global cold chain market, claiming a 45 percent share of the total market in 2014. Meat, fish and seafood needs cold chain storage to avoid wastage as these products are extremely perishable. Growing import-export of meat, fish and seafood is expected to fuel growth of cold chains. Dairy and frozen desserts and fruits and vegetables are other important end-user segments of the cold chain industry having significant market share.
North America dominated the cold chain with approximately a 40 percent share of the global market in 2014, followed by Europe and Asia Pacific. The Asia Pacific region is expected to witness fastest CAGR, due to rising disposable income, growth in food retail market, and rapidly growing demand for frozen food in the region.
According to a Food Processing Technology and Processing online report, with a properly functioning cold chain, perishable food loss could be brought down to about 2 percent. The International Institute of Refrigeration has estimated that 23 percent of food loss and waste in developing countries is due to the lack of a cold chain.
Prevention of waste is a continuing challenge for the global cold chain market. This issue was explored in December at the Carrier/United Technologies World Cold Chain Summit to Reduce Food Waste.
"Only 10 percent of worldwide perishable foods are refrigerated today, so there is immense opportunity to cut food waste and the resulting greenhouse gas emissions by implementing or improving the cold chain," said David Appel, president, Carrier Transicold and Refrigeration Systems.
"One-third or more of the food we produce each year is never eaten, yet more than 50 percent of the wasted food can have its shelf life extended by the cold chain," he noted.
Meanwhile carriers are continuing to invest in the refrigerated sector. Maersk Line, which has the largest containerized reefer fleet and 20 percent of the global market, purchased 30,000 reefers in 2015. Meanwhile reefer rates — along with the rest of the container industry — are challenged by historically low levels.
The rise in refrigerated cargo shipments is good news for major container ports, including the Port of Charleston. Jim Newsome, president and CEO of South Carolina Ports Authority said in a recent Journal of Commerce interview that the transition from specialized carriers to containers "has been ongoing for several years. The major container carriers have invested heavily in refrigerated container infrastructure and shipboard plugs to accommodate regularly scheduled refrigerated cargo trade, and it is hard to ignore the benefit of weekly sailings in the refrigerated cold chain."
Meanwhile, the expanded Panama Canal could be a boon to reefer shippers, because more carriers envision using the Canal/Caribbean region as a regional transshipment and logistics hub. Research last year by CH Robinson and Boston Consulting Group on the trade impacts of the canal expansion found that as much as 10 percent of container traffic to the U.S. from East Asia could shift from West Coast to East Coast ports by 2020. According to Drewry, Panama transshipment activity could jump by double digits following the Canal expansion, with annual growth of 5 percent after the expansion.
One of the top trends impacting the cold chain starts with the obvious — cold chains are becoming more global. "Food is traveling around the world as more manufacturers manage their supply chains globally," said Doug Harrison, president and CEO of VersaCold, in a recent Inbound Logistics report.
"Demand for fresh food is growing, and that requires increased innovation to overcome capacity and infrastructure constraints, and mitigate disruption risks to ensure quality delivery," said Tim Smith, executive vice president, sales and business development for Lineage Logistics, a cold chain 3PL based in Colton, CA.
Other trends dominating the cold chain scene include:
An increasing focus on quality and product sensitivity as more premium products come into the market with a shorter shelf life and greater sensitivity to temperature
Increasing regulation due to government mandates covering safety and quality issue for both food and pharma supply chains
The cold chain is also experiencing mode-shifting as fuel price fluctuations and globalization encourage some cold chain operators to change modes from truckload to intermodal, or from air to ocean. While air remains the main choice for pharma transport (it’s fast but expensive), some shippers have shifted to container carriers as the ability to manage and track locations and temperatures in containers has improved.
Next: Sustainability and technology investment remain critical for the cold chain.
Port of Long Beach has best February ever in terms of cargo volume
The Port of Long Beach handled its highest cargo volume ever for the month of February. The port moved 561,412 TEUs, a 35.9 percent increase over the same month last year, when the terminals were still experiencing the extreme backlog that sprang from the West Coast labor conflict, as well as logistical issues involving a chassis availability and processing larger container ships.
For February, imports were up 44.7 percent to 295,870 TEUs. Exports increased 11.1 percent to 123,010 TEUs, while empty containers rose 45.5 percent to 142,532 TEUs. Empty containers are shipped back overseas to be refilled with goods for import. More than 1 million TEUs moved through the Port of Long Beach in the first two months of 2016.
"In February, we showed the world we can handle today’s megaships by inaugurating the 18,000-TEU CMA CGM Benjamin Franklin," said CEO Jon Slangerup. "The future of big ships is here and our customers are choosing Long Beach because we offer the fastest, most efficient way to get cargo from Asia to the rest of the United States."
The port attributed the numbers to the strength of the U.S. dollar continues to drive demand for imports, but at the same time slows exports by making them relatively expensive overseas. The Lunar New Year holiday began Feb. 8, closing many Chinese businesses for a week or more, so U.S. importers ordered extra products ahead of the lull that will come to the port in early March.
The Port of Long Beach said it continues with its ongoing $4 billion program to modernize its facilities this decade, investing in capital and service improvements that will bring long-term, environmentally sustainable growth, and maintain its competitive advantage as the fastest route from Asia to anywhere in North America.
Canadian Pacific still eyeing merger with CSX
Canadian Pacific Railway is still interested in exploring a merger with CSX Corp. even as Canada’s second-largest carrier continues to pursue Norfolk Southern Corp., according to CEO Hunter Harrison.
Canadian Pacific and CSX "sat down and did what we call, 'Let’s explore some opportunities,'" Harrison said in an interview on Canada’s BNN Television. CSX management didn’t say no, he said. "Nobody made any offers."
CSX shares went up 8 percent in after-hours trading on March 1 after the Wall Street Journal reported Canadian Pacific approached CSX about a takeover in January and was rebuffed. On Tuesday, Harrison disputed the notion that the U.S. railroad shut the door on his company.
"I don’t know how we got rebuffed because we never made an offer," he said.
Harrison has been pursuing an acquisition that would create a coast-to-coast railroad, eliminating rail-car exchanges between carriers. He set his sights on Norfolk Southern, which lags behind other large carriers in key efficiency metrics, after exploratory talks on a possible linkup with CSX in 2014 failed to gain momentum for a deal. Norfolk Southern has rejected Canadian Pacific’s overtures.
S.C. Port improves container service between Charleston and Charlotte
The South Carolina Ports Authority announced a significant improvement to intermodal rail service between the Port of Charleston and the Charlotte Regional Intermodal Facility at the Charlotte Douglass International Airport.
Effective March 12, the new two-day Norfolk Southern service will operate five days per-week, connecting Charleston and Charlotte using existing dedicated intermodal trains.
"This dramatically-improved containerized rail service between Charlotte and the Port of Charleston is the result of collaboration between the Norfolk Southern Railway and the South Carolina Ports Authority," said SCPA president and CEO Jim Newsome. "It builds on the existing, high-speed intermodal network between Charleston and the South Carolina Inland Port in Greer. Charlotte is most logically served via the Port of Charleston, and this link provides a very reliable rail option that has not previously existed. The Charlotte market is fast-growing and offers a very diverse containerized cargo base, including furniture, home improvement goods, general department store merchandise, and chemicals."
Containers moving between Charleston and Charlotte will ride an existing Norfolk Southern overnight intermodal train between Charleston and Spartanburg, where they will connect to intermodal train service between Spartanburg and Charlotte.
One American dead after stabbing incident at Israeli port
One person was killed and twelve others injured in a terrorist stabbing spree at the Jaffa Port, south of Tel Aviv, on Tuesday night.
The deceased was identified as Taylor Force, a U.S. citizen, who was a student at the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University in Tennessee. He was on an Owen School trip to Tel Aviv.
The twelve injured victims were reported in conditions ranging from serious to moderate to light.
The suspected terrorist stabbed two people at the entrance to the port in Jaffa and then continued southward toward Tel Aviv, stabbing more victims, according to a local media report.
The attacker was confronted there by police who shot and killed him. Security forces closed off the area to civilian traffic while they searched for a possible accomplice.
Utah to invest $50 million in Port of Oakland’s prospective coal hub
Utah lawmakers voted to invest more than $50 million in taxpayer funds for a coal shipping facility at the Port of Oakland. The legislation is on its way to be signed by the governor.
The Oakland coal plan easily sailed through the Utah House and Senate on the final day of the 2016 legislative session, with proponents saying it would boost that state’s rural coal country economy.
Terminal Logistics Solutions wants to build a $250 million bulk commodities terminal at the former Oakland Army Base located on the Outer Harbor south of the Bay Bridge toll plaza.
Local California lawmakers, including state Sen. Loni Hancock (D-Oakland), have expressed concern that the facility could be used to receive rail cars of coal for shipment to Asia. Alameda County public health officials also fear that serving as a coal hub would expose West Oakland residents to greater risk for respiratory illness.
Last month, Hancock introduced four bills directly targeting the potential coal shipments. The bills would declare shipping coal through West Oakland a health and safety danger and prohibit shipment through the Oakland port; require extensive environmental reports for public agencies approving coal projects; prohibit public funds to build or operate coal-exporting ports located next to poor communities and require state-funded facilities to prohibit coal or participate in the state's cap-and-trade program.
The Port of Los Angeles handled 713,721 TEUs in February 2016, an increase of 42 percent compared to the previous year. It was the busiest February in the port’s 109-year history, and is significant even when considering the port was still dealing with epic congestion in February 2015, caused by labor slowdowns, a dearth of chassis and the logistics of handling larger container ships.
"Back to back record months to start 2016 indicate consumer confidence in the U.S. economy and strong shipper confidence in our terminal and supply chain partners to deliver on speed and efficiency," said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka.
February 2016 imports surged 46.6 percent to 372,744 TEUs year-over-year. Exports increased 11.1 percent to 146,488 TEUs in February. Total loaded imports of 519,233 TEUs increased 34.5 percent compared to the previous year. Empty containers increased 66.7 percent to 194,487 TEUs. Combined, February overall volumes totaled 713,721 TEUs, a 42 percent increase compared to last year.
The port noted February volumes were buoyed in part by U.S. importers bringing in products from Asia ahead of the Lunar New Year, which began Feb. 8 and slowed production for several weeks in China. The surge in February deliveries will result in softer import volumes in March. The relatively high value of the U.S. dollar continues to slow U.S. exports due to their relative higher costs abroad.
Canadian Pacific CEO sets out to woo CSX in quest to expand reach of railroad
Canadian Pacific Railway CEO Hunter Harrison said he will be hard pressed to convince CSX Corp. — not just Norfolk Southern Corp. — of the merits of a merger.
"Neither one of them think they fit well with us. So I’ve got a selling job to do if we’re going to make this successful," Harrison said last week in an interview with Bloomberg Television. It was the first time Harrison has said CSX didn’t welcome Canadian Pacific’s overtures. A CSX spokesman declined to comment.
Harrison has been pursuing an acquisition that would create a coast-to-coast railroad, eliminating rail-car exchanges between carriers. He set his sights last year on Norfolk Southern, which lags behind other large carriers in key efficiency measurements. Exploratory talks in 2014 on a possible linkup with CSX failed to gain momentum.
Canadian Pacific has made three offers to buy Norfolk Southern, including one in December that valued the U.S. company at $27 billion. All were rejected as "grossly inadequate" and carrying regulatory risk.
"We made an offer with Norfolk Southern with a letter, a pretty extensive offer, a four- or five-page letter," Harrison said. "Maybe we should have gone in and shaken hands, sat down and just talked first. Maybe their impression was that we were trying to back them into a corner. It was not our intent."
Port of Virginia cargo volume up 24 percent in February
The Port of Virginia processed 220,726 TEUs in February, a 24 percent increase when compared with February 2015.
"Last February’s volumes were affected by several snowstorms, but it is important to note that the strength of our increase was far greater than the impact of last year’s weather," said John F. Reinhart, CEO and executive director of the Virginia Port Authority.
In February, the port cites increases in rail volume, up 51 percent; truck volume, up 12 percent; and ship calls, up 10 percent. The new rubber-tire gantry cranes delivered in early January were placed into service in February and helped to build throughput at the rail operations at VIG and Norfolk International Terminals.
Richmond Marine Terminal’s volume was up 42 percent and Virginia Inland Port (VIP) was up 96 percent.
"Richmond and VIP are showing growth and demonstrating their overall importance to our capacity to efficiently handle cargo outside of our primary facilities and meet the needs of our customers," Rinehart said.
The CEO added that there are still opportunities for improvement. "While we handled a significant amount of volume," he said, "we did experience some deterioration of service levels at Virginia International Gateway (VIG) that created a challenge for our motor carriers: corrective measures are being taken and implemented."
On a fiscal-year basis the port’s TEU volume is up 5 percent; rail volume, up 11 percent; truck volume, up 2 percent; and ship calls, up 2 percent.
Maersk subsidiaries fined millions for falsifying records under defense contract
Maersk subsidiaries Farrell Lines and Damco USA have paid the U.S. $3,659,500.00 in civil penalties regarding the companies’ failure to comply with certain terms of its contract with the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM), according to Acting U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of Illinois, James L. Porter.
"The determined federal investigators and the attorneys in my office will continue to strive to ensure that dollars paid from the public fund are properly accounted for and that value is received," Porter said. "The United States Attorney’s Office stands ready to bring proper relief, either criminal or civil, whenever necessary, to make that a fact."
Under Farrell’s contract with USTRANSCOM, it was required to perform international door-to-door and/or port-to-port transportation services to move Department of Defense and other government approved cargo into and out of Afghanistan via multiple modes of transportation (air, sea, and land). Farrell subcontracted its work on the contract to its affiliate, Damco, according to the Department of Justice statement.
The price of the contract was based almost exclusively on the weight of the shipments, and documented cargo weights, consisting of "weight tickets" issued by a certified commercial scale for each cargo container, needed to be included with billing invoices to the government.
Regarding the shipments in question, USTRANSCOM discovered that 563 weight tickets submitted by Farrell to support their billing invoices were "recreated" by Damco employees and not authentic weight tickets. Farrell and Damco cooperated with the investigation, according to the DOJ.
Wednesday, March 16, 2016
Port of Virginia to get $350 in state funds to expand Norfolk terminal
The General Assembly of Virginia has signed off on a $350 million state-backed bond deal to give the port the money needed to expand capacity at Norfolk International Terminals, its largest container facility.
The package still needs to be approved by Gov. Terry McAuliffe, which is a no-brainer since he was its prime mover.
"This is huge for the commonwealth of Virginia and the port," said Aubrey Layne, state transportation secretary. "It says we’re open for business."
The lawmakers’ vote to back the financial-aid package came a year after congestion stretched port operations to the breaking point, driven by container volume increases that broke records three times by the fall.
It also followed a dramatic financial turnaround announced in July, when the Virginia Port Authority was able to report a profit for the first time in seven years.
The build-up at NIT will be vertical for the most part, with containers stacked closer together and higher, emulating procedures used at the port’s other big container terminal: Virginia International Gateway in Portsmouth.
Parallel to the push to grow NIT is the hope to seal another deal soon: a 50-year extension of the port’s lease of VIG that could culminate in the acquisition of the facility.
When the original, 20-year lease was signed in 2010, it was projected to cost more than $1 billion in rent payments by the time it expired in 2030.
Assuming the lease extension unfolds as planned, the rent will increase significantly to help cover the cost of a roughly $320 million expansion of the facility, doubling its capacity.
The General Assembly just approved potential relief on that front, too. Lawmakers enacted a provision in the budget that would let the authority use up to $10 million a year in Commonwealth Port Fund money to offset the higher rent payments, at least for the next two fiscal years.
Major cleanup underway after fuel spill at Port of Los Angeles
A major cleanup operation is underway Monday following a fuel spill in the Port of Los Angeles.
The California Department of Fish and Wildlife say it has received several reports of birds covered in oil near the scene of the spill.
"We have had unconfirmed reports of oiled birds so far, so what we did was we activated the Oiled Wildlife Care Network, so there are two teams out there looking for oiled wildlife," said Eric Laughlin with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife.
The spill occurred around 6:30 p.m. Sunday during a refueling operation along the port's Cerritos Channel. Officials on a barge that was fueling a cargo vessel noticed oil spilling out from the opposite side of the Istra Ace, a large car carrier, according to the Coast Guard.
Operations were immediately halted, and authorities were notified. Several booms have been placed in the water to act as a barrier, which prevents the oil from spreading further.
"A car carrier was being refueled at the location when the barge crew smelled oil," said Coast Guard Captain Jennifer Williams. "The crew stopped the refueling and inspected the port side of the ship, where they discovered oil leaking from a hatch. The vessel was ballasted to stop the leak, but not before the heavy fuel left a visible sheen on the water."
"We've deployed over 15,000 feet of boom in the Port of Los Angeles in this Cerritos Channel area. We've blocked off certain areas to contain the oil in a certain area and we feel that it's been effective so far," Williams added.
Officials believe the cleanup will likely take several weeks.
The Coast Guard, the California Department of Fish and Wildlife, Los Angeles Port Police and fire officials are investigating the leak.
The Istra Ace is owned and operated by Mitsui O.S.K. Lines.
Port of New Orleans considers site for port expansion
The Port of New Orleans and two of its key tenants say in order for business to grow, more space is needed, and that space will likely be on the west bank of Jefferson and St. Bernard parishes.
Their discussion was during one of the Water Challenge panels that's part of New Orleans Entrepreneur Week, taking place through Friday.
Brandy Christian, the port's chief operating officer, said a warehouse shortage and the lack of packaging facilities have them looking outside their footprint to meet the needs of clients. Its working master plan, created in 2008, was largely centered on Hurricane Katrina recovery, and a revision is in the works to meet current needs.
The port is also conducting a study on possible uses for the Avondale Shipyard site, which owner Huntington Ingalls Industries has shuttered as a fabrication site. Christian described the site as having "tremendous warehousing" potential and said estimates put the cost of building wharves at the shipyard between $70 million to $100 million.
Kris Calkins, general manager of New Orleans Terminals, which handles 60 percent of the port's container traffic, said other ports have an advantage because they can stack a dozen or more 20-foot units at huge marshaling and storage yards. In New Orleans, his company can go no higher than five units, although the port's soon-to-open intermodal facility will provide more space for his company and others.
"Most ports have container sites that are giant squares," Calkins said. "In New Orleans, we have a sliver."
Where New Orleans hopes to find a niche is in packaging, taking bulk cargo and finding ways to ship it via truck, rail or barge in quantities that attract a larger customer base.
Chicago’s transport authorities handed a $1.3 billion rail car contract for the city’s "L" urban rail system to a unit of China’s CRRC Corp., the company’s second deal in the U.S. in 18 months.
The order is for 846 7000-series rail cars from CSR Sifang America JV, which submitted the lowest bid, Chicago Transport Authority said in a statement on its website Thursday. Prototypes for an initial order for 400 train cars are due in 2019 and expected to go into a service a year later after tests.
As part of its winning bid, CSR Sifang will also invest $40 million to build a rail assembly facility in Chicago.
The deal is China’s second in the U.S., following the one China CNR Corp. won in October 2014 worth $567 million to supply trains for Boston’s subway system.
Justice Department concerned about proposed CP-Norfolk Southern rail trust
The head of the Justice Department’s antitrust division said he’s concerned about the proposed voting trust structure Canadian Pacific Railway wants to use to acquire Norfolk Southern Corp.
Bill Baer said at a Senate antitrust oversight hearing Wednesday that the Justice Department will submit comments to the U.S. Surface Transportation Board, which has been asked to issue an order confirming the validity of the mechanism.
Oil spill at Port of L.A. attributed to faulty piping
Photo credit: California Fish and Wildlife
Crews are continuing work to clean up an oil spill in the Port of Los Angeles that now is being blamed on faulty piping in the 577-foot tanker, Istra Ace.
An initial investigation points to the piping that may have allowed oil to leak from the starboard side of the ship, according to a statement from the U.S. Coast Guard.
Meanwhile, six oiled birds have been observed by California Fish and Wildlife recovery teams but Steve Gonzalez, a spokesman for the agency, said Monday news reports that three birds were being treated by the Oiled Wildlife Care Network were not accurate.
The ship was seen leaking heavy fuel in the Cerritos channel at Berth 198 Sunday when it came into the port. The shipping company has contracted with the National Response Corporation Environmental Services and other sub-contractors to assist in the effort to contain, clean and recover the oil.
An additional 1,600 feet of boom barrier has been added to the 15,600 feet of the original boom material that was placed around the vessel. The barriers have "successfully contained the oil within the affected area preventing further contamination of the harbor," according to the Coast Guard’s statement.
Recreational and commercial vessel traffic is still restricted in the area which is near the Wilmington Marina Parkway.
Contractors are using sweepers and absorbent pads in the cleanup work and are also using resources to remove any contamination from other vessels, docks, pilings and other structures.
The Coast Guard and California Fish and Wildlife are overseeing the response effort with monitoring assistance from the LAPD and the Los Angeles County Fire Department. Altogether, 18 response vessels are working on the spill.
Aussie port operator Qube to buy Asciano for $6.8 billion
Australian port operator Qube has teamed up with a competing bidder and other partners to buy the port and rail operator Asciano for about $6.8 billion.
Brookfield Infrastructure Partners, a Toronto investment firm that was competing with Qube, is now part of a consortium offering 9.15 Australian dollars, or $6.90, a share for Asciano for a total of about 9 billion dollars.
The board of Asciano, which owns a railway, port and terminals business in the Australian cities of Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth, has recommended the deal to its shareholders, and the transaction is expected to be completed by June. The deal brings an end to several months of tussling over Asciano, which agreed in August to be bought by Brookfield but received a competing bid from Qube in January.
Under the terms of the deal, various parts of Asciano would be acquired by different members of the consortium, which includes three of Canada's largest fund managers. Qube, Brookfield Infrastructure, the British Columbia Investment Management Corporation, the Qatar Investment Authority and GIC, a Singapore sovereign wealth fund, would create a joint venture to acquire Asciano’s Patrick Container Terminals business. The same group, minus Qube, would buy the business that provides port services for bulk freight and the automotive industry.
The Pacific National rail business would go to Global Infrastructure Management, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board, GIC, British Columbia Investment Management and the CIC Capital Corporation, an arm of a Chinese sovereign wealth fund.
Qube said it expected cost savings of 25 million to 40 million dollars in the container business over the next two or three years as a result of the deal.
The deal is subject to a vote by Asciano shareholders and regulatory approval. In an effort to address concerns about competition, Brookfield Infrastructure has agreed not to acquire any interest in the rail business, and Qube has agreed not to acquire any interest in the bulk and automotive ports services business.
Mayor of Newark calls for federal investigation into dockworker hiring
According to The Wall Street Journal, the mayor of Newark, NJ has called for a federal investigation into what he says are "severe racial, gender and ethnic inequality" in the hiring of dockworkers at New Jersey’s port terminals, asking the U.S. Attorney General to determine whether civil rights laws have been violated.
In a letter to U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas Perez, Mayor Ras Baraka highlighted membership rolls at two New Jersey locals of the International Longshoremen’s Association, showing that both were more than 85 percent white even though the cities of Newark and Elizabeth, where the terminals are located, have a combined black and Latino population of 77 percent.
"Clearly those hired to work at the port are not representative of the diversity of the surrounding community," wrote Baraka, who took office in 2014. Officials at the ILA didn't respond to requests for comment.
The mayor’s letter is the latest development in a continuing dispute at the Port of New York and New Jersey, the largest seaport on the East Coast, over hiring practices that some watchdogs argue are plagued by corruption and nepotism.
Roughly 3,500 longshoremen work at the region’s waterfronts as clerks, crane operators, inspectors, mechanics and other positions. Employment has fallen from about 35,000 dockworkers in the middle of the last century, when the introduction of shipping containers reduced the need for large crews to handle cargo. The union has fought efforts to introduce automated technologies that would reduce employment.
Currently, the ILA and the New York Shipping Association, which represents terminal operators, refer workers to the longshoremen’s employment register, but those workers must be certified before they can go to work.
That certification is done by the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor, a body set up in the 1950s to combat organized crime in waterfront labor unions. The commission in recent years has also focused on drug-testing and on getting the terminals to hire a more diverse workforce.
Labor tensions have flared over the diversity issue. In 2013, the NYSA and the ILA sued the commission in federal court in New Jersey, arguing the organization had "gone off the rails" by exceeding its original mandate and changing the requirements for adding longshoremen to the port’s employment register.
The commission argues that policing federal fair hiring practices, including discrimination, falls under its purview to fight "corruption" in hiring.
The hiring dispute was behind a one-day walkout by hundreds of longshoremen in January that effectively shut down the port cargo terminals before the NYSA got a court injunction compelling the workers to return to work.
John Nardi, president of the NYSA, described his group’s relationship with the Newark mayor as "cooperative and positive," and said that Monday’s call for an investigation came out of the blue. He said that by the time the group met with the mayor last year, more than 60 longshoremen who live in Newark had been hired in the latest round of hiring, which started about two years ago.
Since March 2014, 832 longshoremen have been certified and added to the register, and about 800 have been put to work, according to NYSA statistics. Of those, 41.4 percent were white, 20.8 percent were Hispanic, 34.6 percent were black and the remainder belonged to other ethnic groups. Females made up 8.4 percent of the new hires, NYSA said.
"Apparently, he’s got his own stable of people he wants hired," Nardi said. "We welcome anybody’s looking into our hiring practices. We have nothing to hide. If they want an investigation, we’re happy to show them our statistics."
Port of Long Beach appoints three directors from within organization
The Board of Harbor Commissioners has approved the appointments of new directors for the Port of Long Beach’s finance, surveys and transportation planning divisions, according to a port statement.
Maurina Lee, previously the Harbor Department’s controller, will become the director of finance. She has been controller since March of last year and was previously finance manager for the city of Downey from 2006 to 2015. The Finance Division oversees an annual budget that is $829 million this fiscal year. It is part of the Finance and Administration Bureau.
Robert Seidel, who has been the Port of Long Beach’s chief surveyor since 2006, will be the new director of surveys. The division, part of the Engineering Services Bureau, checks depths in the harbor to support safe navigation and assists port operations in areas such as utility markings, property rights and construction projects.
Allison Yoh is being promoted to director of transportation planning from the position of transportation policy manager, a post she has held since February 2015. The Transportation Planning Division is part of the Planning and Environmental Affairs Bureau. It oversees transportation planning studies, assists with managing port-related traffic, administers grants and develops transportation policy.
Seidel began working for the port in 1992 in Surveys for an 18-month internship. He returned to the Port in 1997. He has worked on many of the port’s major projects of the last two decades, including the development of Pier T in 2000 and the 1992 expansion of Pier J. Seidel has an associate degree in civil technology/surveying from Orange Coast College.
Prior to joining the port in 2013, Yoh was associate director of two research centers at UCLA focusing on transportation policy. She has a doctorate in urban planning from UCLA, a master’s in urban planning from UCLA and a bachelor’s in anthropology from UC Berkeley.
The appointments are effective March 19.
Trucker receives $800K settlement after container crushes truck
A truck driver who was injured when a container dropped from a crane and crashed down onto his truck is receiving $800,000 in a settlement with a Jersey City container port.
Wesley Gadsden Jr., 69, of Jersey City, was left fully disabled and unable to work as a result of the May 7, 2013, accident at Global Terminal, according to Gadsden's attorney, Damon A. Vespi of the Vespi Law Firm in Totowa.
On the day of the accident, Gadsden was parked at a loading dock at 302 Port Jersey Blvd. and was in the process of receiving a full, 47,840-pound container that was being lowered onto his chassis by a crane, Vespi said in a press release.
The container clipped another grounded, stacked container, became unhooked from the crane and fell onto the chassis and cab of Gadsden's truck from at least two stories above.
Gadsden was thrown violently, his attorney said, and his head slammed into the roof of his cab.
He suffered severe neck and back injuries and required lower back surgery. He needed a second back surgery, but surgeons refused to perform it due to Gadsden's high blood pressure, diabetes and other complications. He also suffered a minor traumatic brain injury, Vespi said.