Thursday, August 9, 2012
Port of Portland to pay terminal operator up to $4.7 mil in stimulus amid labor strife
The Port of Portland commission voted 6-1 this week in favor of a stimulus payout to its container terminal operator that could reach $4.7 million amid an ongoing labor dispute that has impacted the shipping business there.
The Oregonian reported International Longshore and Warehouse Union representatives objected to the port's bailout of the port's Terminal 6 operator – ICTSI – that they say is run by a billionaire in the Philippines.
One of the terminal's biggest customers, South Korea's Hanjin Shipping, will reportedly go back to calling weekly at the port after circumventing Portland for the past month as other shipping lines had done, while ICTSI waits for a labor dispute to be resolved.
The longshoremen's union and the electrician's union are battling in court over which labor union has jurisdiction over two jobs plugging, unplugging and monitoring refrigerated cargo containers at the port.
For the moment, under a temporary arrangement, workers from the longshoremen's union will be performing the two disputed jobs.
The last Hanjin ship that called at Portland in June reportedly experienced significant delays.
Hapag-Lloyd, which also went on hiatus due to dock delays, resumed service to Portland after two weeks, although it is said to be reevaluating the situation each week.
On Tuesday testimony continued in federal court regarding the International Longshore and Warehouse Union's tactics in the dispute.
The National Labor Relations Board accused ILWU of using work slowdowns to pressure terminal operator ICTSI to hand over the reefer work. The trial is currently on hold until August 20.
Bill Wyatt, executive director of the Port of Portland reportedly said the maximum stimulus payment would equal ICTSI's annual rent and would not come from tax revenues.
The one opposing vote for the port's payout was from Commissioner Bruce Holte, who is a member of the ILWU's Local 8 in Portland.
The following Oregonian sources were for this story: oregonlive.com/portofportland and oregonlive.com/hanjin
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