The articles excerpted on this site report on the state of the industry as seen by mainstream media, and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of the officers of the ILWU Coast Longshore Division.

Shortage of drivers may spark higher peak-season truck rates

From the Journal of Commerce:

Over-the-road shippers worried about peak-season capacity this fall need to focus on the front of the truck, not the back. There will be trailers available ready to receive freight, and enough trucks to pull them. What may be missing is the key ingredient in truck capacity: the driver.

The escalating driver shortage has become the leading check on over-the-road truck capacity, and if freight demand continues to stay above 2013 levels, the shortage is likely to lead to sharp increases in transportation pricing, as carriers pull out all stops to recruit and keep drivers.

More at the Journal of Commerce


Port of Tacoma executive asking railroad for better service

BNSF Oil Train

Two to three 100-car crude oil unit trains a day now arrive in the Pacific Northwest daily. That number, say researchers, is likely to increase geometrically as more rail crude-oil terminals are built here.

The Port of Tacoma’s chief executive officer , John Wolfe, Wednesday was on a pilgrimage to Burlington Northern Santa Fe LLC’s Fort Worth, Texas, headquarters with a critical mission to accomplish.

His objective is to remind BNSF — the major rail connection between Pacific Northwest ports, the markets of the Midwest and the wheat fields of the Dakotas, Montana and Eastern Washington — not to give the region’s ports short shrift in the railroad’s efforts to cater to new-found energy business customers.

Port commission members say they fear the growing influx of oil and coal trains will clog the BNSF mainline across Washington, Idaho, Montana and North Dakota and slow down delivery of consumer goods and industrial parts to Midwest destinations.

More at The News Tribune


U.S. blacklists North Korea shipping firms over arms shipments

Chong Chon Gang

The ship, Chong Chon Gang, was discovered last July near the Panama Canal hiding a large amount of arms, including two MiG-21 jet fighters under 200,000 bags of sugar, which the United States said showed a clear attempt to circumvent U.N. and U.S. sanctions against North Korea.

The United States on Wednesday blacklisted two North Korean shipping firms that it said tried to conceal arms shipments from Cuba to North Korea, following a similar move by the United Nations.

“The Chong Chon Gang episode, in which (North Korea) tried to hide an arms shipment under tons of sugar, is a perfect example of North Korea’s deceptive activity, and precisely the sort of conduct that we are committed to disrupting,” David Cohen, the U.S. Treasury Department’s undersecretary for terrorism and financial intelligence, said in a statement.

The Treasury Department imposed sanctions on Chongchongang Shipping Company, which is owned by the North Korean government, and the Ocean Maritime Management Company, which tried to help conceal the weapons and provide false documents to authorities in Panama, Treasury said. It also blacklisted 18 vessels in which the firms have an interest.

More at Reuters


Sheriff's letter on longshore union lockout is a must-read

Should public law enforcement provide private security for an overseas corporation that’s locked out local union workers? Longshore and Shipping News readers know the answer, but at last, here’s a rational message from law enforcement on the matter.

Excerpts from The Columbian, followed by Clark County Sheriff Garry Lucas’ letter in its entirety:

ILWU lockout at Mitsui-United Grain in Vancouver and Marubeni-Columbia Grain in Portland.

”We have never, and as long as I’m the sheriff never will, act as an escort to a private company involved in a labor dispute to transport or escort management staff, subcontractors, or third parties onto management’s property.” ILWU members have been locked out at Mitsui-United Grain in Vancouver and Marubeni-Columbia Grain in Portland for more than a year.

Citing neutrality among other reasons, Clark County Sheriff Garry Lucas on Tuesday explained why he declined an offer by United Grain Corp. to pay his office to escort state grain inspectors past picket lines to the company’s facility at the Port of Vancouver.

The letter comes amid a 17-month-long labor dispute between United Grain and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. It elaborates on a statement issued by the sheriff’s office last week saying it would not provide security escorts for inspectors with the state Department of Agriculture.

Last week’s statement was in response to formal requests by United Grain and the Clark County Board of Commissioners to consider providing security escorts to grain inspectors. Those requests came in the aftermath of a decision by Washington Gov. Jay Inslee to stop using the Washington State Patrol to ferry grain inspectors past picket lines at a gate on the port’s east side.

After the governor’s decision in late June, the state Agriculture department, citing safety concerns, discontinued grain inspections on July 7. Subsequently, United Grain’s operations came to a halt. Although shippers may use other grain terminals in the region, farmers and export groups have raised concerns about their ability to ship products overseas, given the situation at the Port of Vancouver.

Jennifer Sargent, spokeswoman for the Longshore union, has told The Columbian that state grain inspectors don’t feel safe at the picket lines because of conditions created by United Grain, and that “they are union members themselves who generally do not want to cross picket lines.”

Jaime Smith, a spokeswoman for Inslee, has said the governor authorized the State Patrol escorts last fall in hopes it would give United Grain and the Longshore union time to negotiate an agreement. But eight months of negotiations were unsuccessful, she said, and it was clear the escorts weren’t producing the intended results.

Smith has also said the governor was clear with both United Grain and the Longshore union that the State Patrol services were temporary.

The Sheriff’s letter in its entirety:

July 29, 2014

Recently I was asked by United Grain Corporation to supply deputies from the Clark County Sheriff’s Office to act as escorts for Washington State grain inspectors onto the UGC work site at the Port of Vancouver. UGC is currently in the midst of a labor dispute with active picketing. The Washington State Department of Agriculture decided to end inspection services at this site and noted safety concerns for their reason. In their letter to UGC, WSDA stated that these safety concerns existed even with the presence of Law Enforcement.

The request for escorting the grain inspectors came directly from United Grain Corporation and not from the WSDA grain inspectors. UGC even offered to reimburse the County for costs associated with the performing these escorts.

My rationale for not becoming a contractor for United Grain is as follows:

It begins with a question. What is the appropriate role for a law enforcement agency as it relates to a strike or labor disagreement?

My position is that the law enforcement role is a neutral enforcement role that preserves the peace, protects life and property, and protects the rights of the parties as it relates both to the law and the Constitution of the United States. It becomes difficult to maintain neutrality when a police agency is a contractor/employee of one of the parties.

This strike is occurring in the City of Vancouver. They have primary jurisdiction. We become involved if and when conflict grows to the point that Vancouver Police can no longer deal with it on their own and call for mutual aid. They have, thus far, not made such a request. If they should, we would be the first logical mutual aid responder. Should we contract with United Grain, we would be perceived by all parties as a contractor/employee of United Grain. Neutrality and objectivity lost. In the meantime, preservation of the peace and protection of life and property is the primary responsibility of Vancouver Police Department.

We have never, and as long as I’m the sheriff never will, act as an escort to a private company involved in a labor dispute to transport or escort management staff, subcontractors, or third parties onto management’s property. It is my belief that there are private security firms available to provide such a service. If the use of these private firms fail to make the grain inspectors feel safe, those issues should be addressed with the inspectors to determine what additional measures could be taken to rectify their safety concerns.

It seems to me that this labor disagreement has the potential to effect interstate commerce and, in that regard, there are numerous federal laws that could be utilized to reach resolution, but we have either not reached that threshold, or the federal government has not yet acted.

In conclusion we generally reach where we find ourselves based on history. In the early part of the 19th century there was tremendous unrest. The working class felt that they were the victims of terrible working conditions and were the victims of the manufacturing moguls. I won’t go into who was right and who was wrong. The point is that there was no lawful mechanism to resolve differences. The result was violence, bloodshed, and atrocity committed by both sides. Cronyism was rampant, and those with power and influence convinced the political machine to use the police as a means of controlling those demonstrating against them. Neutrality and a sense of fairness lost.

As a result we have a myriad of state and federal laws regulating management/labor relations, and an established framework of law by which resolution may be gained. The parties need to avail themselves of that framework.

In short, the best and most effective way through this labor disagreement is for both parties to bargain in good faith to reach common ground. I encourage them to do so, but I will not become the employee of either side.

Garry Lucas, Sheriff

Download the letter here.


Port of Newport elects new board president

The Port of Newport Board of Commissioners has elected a new slate of officers: Walter Chuck, replaces longtime president JoAnn Barton; Dean Fleck will serve at vice president, replacing David Jincks; and Ken Brown, appointed last January, is the new secretary-treasurer, replacing Chuck.

Chuck was appointed in 2011 and elected two years later to a term that expires in mid-2017.

From the Newport News Times


ICTSI in the mix for Israeli concession

ICTSI, the leading terminal operator from the Philippines is among four firms to have been approved to tender for a pair of new ports in Israel. Tenders for the 25-year concessions are now expected in November. The other companies in the mix are MSC, Eurogate and Shanghai International Port Group.

Israel Ports Company ceo Shlomo Brieman said, “The inclusion of competing private operating companies in the Israeli ports sector will bring Israel’s ports up to the same level as modern ports around the world that operate on a competitive model. These companies have high service levels by international standards, to which the importers, exporters, shippers, and those dealing in foreign trade are entitled.”

Tel Aviv’s plans to introduce private terminals to grow competition in the ports sector has drawn the ire of port workers in the country, resulting in a number of strikes.

More at Sea Ship News


Coal exports from Bellingham could ramp up rapidly

Developers of the largest of the region’s proposed coal-export terminals have shifted their site plan to claim a dramatic reduction in impacts on wetlands.

Simultaneously, SSA Marine, the Seattle international terminal operator, said it will speed up plans to operate Gateway Pacific Terminal (GPT) north of Bellingham at full capacity. The capacity planning, along with plentiful evidence that BNSF Railway is beefing up its tracks in northwestern Washington to prepare for more coal and oil traffic, alerted terminal foes and brought immediate pushback Monday from the Bellingham City Council.

Potentially adding fuel to the fire, BNSF and its largest union are moving toward a contract that allows the railroad to run the 130-car, mile-plus-long coal trains with a single engineer in the cab, replacing the present practice of two in the cab.

Source: Crosscut. Read the rest at this link


Ex-Santander banker cops $US1.9m fine on BHP deal

A banker tied to BHP Billiton’s failed bid for control of Potash Corp has agreed to settle an insider trading lawsuit in the US, Reuters reports.

The US Securities and Exchange Commission announced the settlement with former Banco Santander executive Cedric Cañas Maillard at the end of last week, with Mr Cañas to pay $US960,806 ($1.02 million) in penalties and forfeit an equivalent amount due to improper profits. In all, he will pay about $US1.9m.

The decision relates to allegations Mr Cañas bought into Potash Corp after learning on August 5, 2010 that Santander was assisting BHP on a takeover proposal for Potash Corp.

More at the Business Spectator


Hutchison in bid with ICTSI to end DP World-Patrick duopoly in Australia

The Australian boss of Hutchison Ports has confirmed the company will hold talks with International Container Terminal Services about an east coast joint venture to compete with Patrick and DP World Australia, as it plans to offer a “compelling value proposition” to break the industry duopoly.

Speaking after the official opening of its new $300 million terminal at Port Botany in Sydney yesterday, Hutchison’s Australian chief executive, Stephen Gumley, said the extent to which the company tried to launch a joint venture with ICTS so that it offered services at all the major east coast ports would largely depend on the needs of the customers of both parties.

More at The Australian


FMC members cite progress in cross-border report

Two Federal Maritime Commission members hailed U.S. dredging legislation and Seattle-Tacoma port cooperation as “significant” steps to help U.S. ports compete with Canadian and Mexican gateways for shipments to U.S. points.

Commissioners Richard A. Lidinsky Jr. and William P. Doyle … noted this year’s passage of the Water Resources Reform and Development Act, which among other things provides a mechanism for naturally deep ports such as Seattle and Tacoma to receive a greater share of HMT revenue.

They also pointed to the FMC’s March approval of an agreement allowing the Seattle and Tacoma ports to exchange information and work together to compete against ports on Canada’s west coast.

Excerpts from the Journal of Commerce. Read full article at this link.


Matson settles lawsuit on overbilling; still working out agreement after molasses spill

Two updates this week on Matson’s recent legal issues:

Matson settles fuel surcharge suit for $10M
Ship and Bunker

U.S. shipping company Matson Inc. [NYSE:MATX] (Matson) will pay $9.95 million to settle a lawsuit over improperly billing the government for fuel surcharges, Pacific Business News reports.

The lawsuit had claimed that Matson and fellow carrier Horizon Lines had cost the U.S. government $2 million a year in damages.

Matson and Horizon Lines had been accused of inflating shipping costs by applying a bunker fuel surcharge even when good were moved by train.

Full article

Matson’s molasses shipping agreement with Alexander and Baldwin still in flux
Pacific Business Journal

For more than 40 years, shipping company Matson Inc. was wholly owned by Alexander & Baldwin until the parent spun Matson off as a separate, publicly-traded company in 2012.

The relationship between the two continued in several agreements, and A&B used Matson to ship its molasses from another of its companies, Hawaiian Commercial and Sugar Co. on Maui, to the Mainland via its Sand Island operation at Honolulu Harbor.

But 10 months after the 1,400-ton molasses spill into Honolulu Harbor, that part of their relationship is still in flux. HC&S now ships its molasses directly from Maui.

Matson has spent $5.7 million so far in legal expenses, costs and third-party claims related to the spill.

Full article


Opponents of oil terminal raise new concerns

Opponents of building the Northwest’s largest oil transfer terminal at the Port of Vancouver aren’t letting up on the port. They returned Tuesday, raising concerns about how commissioners decided the lease with Tesoro Corp. and Savage Companies, urging the port to conduct a public hearing about canceling the agreement and renewing their demand for an uncensored copy of the contract.

Opponents say the risks are too great, citing concerns about public safety, and negative impacts to air, land and water.

More at the Columbian


Matson could potentially buy Horizon’s Alaska lines

On the heels of news that Horizon Lines may sell its Puerto Rican trade lines to Crowley, analysts say that the company may be prompted to sell its Alaska lines to Matson.

Analysts at Stifel Nicolaus say the sale could come as a necessity if Horizon sells part of its business to Crowley.

“Taking out one of the three legs could cause the stool to fall, potentially necessitating the sale of all three businesses,” Stifel Nicolaus said in its research note, according to an article in the Journal of Commerce.

From the Jacksonville Business Journal


Oakland Board of Port Commissioners elects new officers

From a Port of Oakland news release:

On Thursday, the Oakland Board of Port Commissioners approved a resolution officially ratifying the election of new board officers, which took place at the regular Port Board meeting on July 24, 2014. The Port Board selected Commissioner Alan S. Yee to serve as President, Commissioner Cestra “Ces” Butner as First Vice-President, and Commissioner Earl S. Hamlin as Second Vice-President. The Board elects new officers at the beginning of every fiscal year; the Port’s Fiscal Year 2014-2015 began on July 1, 2014.


PMA and ILWU Provide Update on Contract Talks

SAN FRANCISCO (July 25, 2014) – The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) today issued the following statement:

After several days of productive contract talks, both parties concluded negotiations on Friday afternoon.

No talks will take place from July 28 to Aug. 1 so that the ILWU can resume unrelated contract negotiations in the Pacific Northwest.

The PMA and ILWU will resume their contract negotiations on Monday, August 4, in San Francisco. The previous labor contract covering nearly 20,000 longshore workers at 29 West Coast ports expired July 1. While there is no contract extension in place, both parties have pledged to keep cargo moving.

The coast-wide labor contract is between employers who operate port terminals and shipping lines represented by the PMA and dockworkers represented by the ILWU. The parties have negotiated a West Coast collective bargaining agreement since the 1930s.

Contacts: Wade Gates, PMA, (415) 415 591 4048, pmanews@bm.com
Craig Merrilees, ILWU, (415) 775-0533, ext. 113 (o), (510) 774-5325 (c)