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Tuesday, November 1, 2011

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Teamsters refuse to load company's trucks at California port

Teamsters at the Port of Hueneme, Calif. refused to load freight onto trucks owned by Seaboard Produce Distributors Inc. yesterday as part of a union protest over the firing of 10 drivers who allegedly wanted to organize.

"They'll have to go to a different trucking company to do their work," said Dennis Shaw, contract administrator for the Teamsters Local Union No. 186, as reported by the Ventura County Star.

The fired truck drivers said they had voted to unionize Aug. 25. and were subsequently released by Seaboard Produce the following day.

The produce companies reportedly impacted by the union protest are Del Monte Fresh Produce and Chiquita Fresh North America, who distribute the freight from the port out to grocery chains that include Ralphs, Stater Brothers Markets and Vons.

The Teamsters claim the truck drivers were mistreated and underpaid by the owner of Seaboard Produce Distributors, Woody Hansen.

The union said it filed a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board in late August.

Seaboard's truck drivers reportedly earn $35 per load and the Teamsters are pushing for a wage of $20-$25 per hour.

For the full story:

ILWU halts work at Oakland terminals over potential explosive reefer units scare

Longshore workers refused to unload ships on Monday at two marine terminals at the Port of Oakland due to some refrigerated containers allegedly containing potential explosive material that reportedly killed three dock workers and injured 16 others at a port in Vietnam last Friday.

Other media outlets have reported the reefer containers in the Vietnam port incident were confirmed by Danish shipping company, Maersk. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union has said the faulty containers have exploded in Brazil, China and Vietnam due to poor servicing issues.

The Northern California seaport had already been girding for a blockade that is to reportedly occur there on Wednesday by Oakland's version of the Occupy Wall Street movement protests.

A longshoreman requesting anonymity told local media the following on Monday: "At 8 o'clock this morning we got the word that the containers that were over at SSA were actually some of the containers that were on the list that weren't supposed to get here."

The ILWU reportedly had a list of refrigerated containers serviced in Vietnam with an unstable form of Freon that has caused the explosive incident in Vietnam.

"They have apparently taken at least three lives and may have injured many more people," said Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the ILWU.

"I think we know that at least two terminals, both the SSA and TraPac terminal have been shut down," Merrilees said yesterday.

A trucker told local ABC7: "I was supposed to turn in my empty containers in and then take loads out and I couldn't do anything."

The U.S. Coast Guard has reportedly found at least 13 of the defective containers and conducting searches at container ports along the West Coast.

For the full ABC7 News story:

China manufacturing growth slowed in October

China's manufacturing sector posted its the slowest growth in almost three years in October as export orders weakened, according to recent monthly indices.

The China Federation of Logistics and Purchasing reported its index slipped to a more than forecast 0.8 to 50.4, barely above the "expansion" level.

HSBC's PMI rose to what the group termed a "modest" 51.0 in October from 49.9 the month before.

The World Bank has forecast China's economy to grow 9.3 percent this year, although many economists are forecasting that growth to be below 9 percent for next year due in part to tighter credit and weakened export demand, according to a CBS News report.

China's exports to the European Union fell 9.7 percent from a year earlier.

"There are clear signs of uncertainty in global markets that are impacting China's economy. The European and U.S. debt crisis has continued to worsen, the global recovery is still weak and unsteady," the Federation of Logistics and Purchasing said in a statement.

For the full CBS News story:

Jaxport applies for TIGER funds to help with $45 mil intermodal facility

The Jacksonville Port Authority announced it has applied to the U.S. Department of Transportation's Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) program for a $25 million grant to aid in the funding of a $45 million intermodal container transfer facility at its Dames Point Marine Terminal.

The port said in a statement that the remaining balance of $20 million to construct the facility would be supplied by the state of Florida.

The next round of TIGER grants are slated to be awarded by early 2012, and the JAXPORT ICTF is targeted for completion by the end of 2014 if the funds are received, the port said.

Cannon pulled from Blackbeard's ship

A cannon was pulled from the Atlantic Wednesday from the wreckage of Queen Anne's Revenge, the ship of the pirate Blackbeard. It was the 13th found on the ship.

The cannon is 8 feet long and weighs 2 tons, and is being examined by the Queen Anne's Revenge conservation lab.

The pirate ship began as La Concorde, a French slave ship. Blackbeard captured it to make it the flagship of his fleet in 1717, and the ship sank off the coast of North Carolina in 1718.

-Los Angeles Times

For the full story:


Wednesday, November 2, 2011

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Report: No longshore strike at Port of Oakland

The planned civil protest in Oakland, Calif. today that is part of the global Occupy Wall Street movement has so far been peaceful with about 5,000 assembled outside the main Wells Fargo branch there, according to several media reports. Meanwhile, longshore workers at the Port of Oakland will reportedly not strike alongside the protesters who have said they plan to form a blockade at the port this evening.

Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, told the Associated Press that the union is not able, under the terms of its contract, to sanction a strike that supports the Occupy Oakland protests, although he said dozens out of the over 300-strong union workforce did not show up for work this morning.

The Occupy Oakland organizers has called for a blockade of the Port of Oakland today that would reportedly commence somewhere between 5:pm and 7:pm this evening when the Northern California seaport's night shift begins.

The port's most recent update as of mid-day today said that it is open and "generally operating." The Port of Oakland also released a statement yesterday signed by Harbor Commission Pamela Calloway and Executive Director Omar Benjamin calling for peaceful assembly and outlining some of the port's own financial struggles, and economic contributions to the region. "We are operating at just over 50 percent capacity at our seaport, while there is increasing competition from alternative shipping gateways around the country and the world. Despite these challenges, port activity generates over 73,000 jobs in the region, and every day we work to create more jobs," the statement said.


Thursday, November 3, 2011

Top Story

Protesters prompted shutdown at Port of Oakland

Up to 7,000 estimated protesters jammed the main entrance to the Port of Oakland Wednesday evening as the local version of the Occupy Wall Street movement reportedly shut down the night shift of California's third largest seaport.

Several port trucks were unable to enter or leave, according to local news reports.

The Port of Oakland said late last night in a statement that "maritime operations remain effectively shut down, and the port has been taking steps to help workers in the harbor area get home safely."

As of this morning, the port released a subsequent statement: "Workers in the maritime area of the port are beginning to return to their jobs and seaport operations have partially resumed, though the situation remains fluid. Operations at the Oakland International Airport and real estate areas continue as normal from yesterday. Port employees have been directed to show up at work as normal pursuant to regular work schedules."

The port said there were no confirmed reports of injuries or property damage with the exception of what the authority said was "a limited incursion into a private rail facility, and trespassers were escorted off peacefully.".

The port had sent staffers from its main office home on Wednesday afternoon with the impending protesters moving towards their location.

Organizers of Occupy Oakland had reportedly said their reasons for forming the port blockade included the desire to stem the flow of capitalism, protesting economic equality, and showing solidarity with a union dispute that occurred at the Port of Longview, Wash. over the summer.

The longshore labor force at the Port of Oakland did not reportedly join yesterday's general strike.

Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, told the Associated Press that the union was not able, under the terms of its contract, to sanction a strike that supports the Occupy Oakland protests, although he said dozens out of the over 300-strong union workforce did not show up for work Wednesday morning.

In another Port of Oakland statement, the port said: "Continued missed shifts represent economic hardship for maritime workers, truckers, and their families, as well as lost jobs and lost tax revenue for our region."

The Occupy Oakland activists have been active for close to a month outside City Hall as Wednesday's public assembly swelled to thousands of protesters outside the main Wells Fargo branch.

According to news reports, Wednesday's protests were mostly peaceful with some incidents of vandalism in addition to a report that the driver of a Mercedes-Benz ran into two protesters.

For the full San Francisco Chronicle report on the protests:

China plans to place controls on shipbuilding

China's transport minister said the world's biggest shipbuilding country would place controls on newbuild vessel deliveries to help stem the tide of a forecasted glut of ship capacity, although no details were offered.

"We will guide the orderly arrival of new container and dry-bulk ships in the market," said Transport Minister Li Shenglin this week in a speech at a conference in the Hainan province as reported by Businessweek.

China has helped subsidize its 3,000 or so shipyards amid a drop in freight rates and expanding overcapacity of ships that has reportedly exceeded the glut that hit at the outset of the global recession in 2008.

China Cosco Holdings Co. posted a $440 million loss in the first half of the year and its chairman, Wei Jiafu, said at the same conference that this year has been "the most painful ever."

For the full Businessweek story:

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Republicans reportedly poised to shoot down Obama's infrastructure stimulus plan

Republicans in the U.S. Senate today via filibuster could reportedly shoot down President Barack Obama's $60 billion infrastructure jobs plan.

Republicans voted down the President's $447 billion jobs package in October and Democrats will reportedly return the favor by blocking a GOP highway and transit plan that would include a $40 billion cut in un-used funds for domestic programs.

"The American people are with me with this. And it's time for folks running around spending all their time talking about what's wrong with America to spend some time rolling up their sleeves to help us make it right," the President said on Wednesday in front of the Potomac River bridge as part of the infrastructure initiative tour he's been on around the U.S.

The legislation would provide an up front $50 billion investment in airports, bridges, roads and transit systems and establishing a $10 billion "I-bank" that would leverage public-private capital for infrastructure projects.

Obama's infrastructure jobs plan would be financed by a 0.7 percent surcharge on income over $1 million that the Republicans have said they oppose.

Canada's Livingston Intl. expands in U.S. Southeast market with HIPAGE acquisition

Canada's largest customs broker, Livingston International, announced it has acquired Norfolk, Virginia-based HIPAGE Company, Inc.; expanding its presence in the U.S. Southeast.

The addition of HIPAGE adds over 100 staff in offices that include Atlanta, Savannah, Charleston, Greensboro, Raleigh, Wilmington, Norfolk, Dublin and Richmond, the company said in a statement.

"This is a very friendly deal," said Frank A. Daman, president and chief financial officer of HIPAGE.

"We have always respected Livingston as a partner for our northern border brokerage business," he said.

Livingston International said it employs 2.300 throughout North America and has its U.S. air and sea hub in Chicago along with regional centers in Los Angeles and New York.

Calexico port border entry beefs up for unconfirmed threat

The West Calexico Port of Entry between the U.S. and Mexico is beefing up security after the U.S. Department of Homeland Security released a statement that there was an unconfirmed threat.

The DHS said more officers from CBP and other law enforcement agencies would be added over the threat that is reportedly on Mexico's side of the border.

"Out of an abundance of caution, CBP is deploying additional law enforcement resources to ensure the safety of the traveling public and personnel in and around the port," the DHS said.

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