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.

Bill introduced to study opening interstate market to truck drivers under age 21

Legislation has been introduced in the U.S. Senate to study the viability of allowing truck drivers under the age of 21 to operate in interstate commerce.

Currently, in the lower 48 states, an individual can obtain a commercial driver’s license at the age of 18 but can only operate a vehicle in the state where the license is issued. Under the Commercial Driver Act, introduced Wednesday by Sen. Deb Fischer, R-Neb., contiguous states could enter into interstate compacts for drivers under the age of 21 to operate across state lines. Participating states would provide minimum licensure standards acceptable for interstate travel, under the bill. The bill also would seek to expand the pool of eligible truck drivers and establish truck driving career opportunities for recent high school graduates.

More at DC Velocity


Shippers question multiple surcharges levied by Asia-Europe lines

Excerpts from the Journal of Commerce:

One major global shipper compared the container shipping freight market to a car dealership. “The basic product is not profitable, but if you can sign the customer up for a sufficient number of additionals, you’ll survive,” he told JOC.com.

[S]urcharges contained, among other items, terminal handling fees at both the port of loading and the port of destination, bunker adjustment factors, low sulfur fuel surcharges, security surcharge, security manifest and many more. Once the surcharges were added up, they totalled $828.15 per TEU, more than the current spot market rate.

This has led to a suspicion from some shippers that the surcharges are deployed for profit-making purposes rather than to recover costs of calling at ports.

More at the JOC


Port of Oakland adopts $470 million budget for FY 2016

Oakland’s Board of Port Commissioners has approved a $470 million Fiscal Year 2016 budget for the Port of Oakland. It takes effect July 1.

The Port budget includes $167 million for capital improvements, including $32 million for continuing development of Port property at the former Oakland Army Base. The Port is constructing a major West Coast transport and logistics center on land adjacent to its marine terminals designed to significantly increase Oakland containerized cargo volume.

More at the Port of Oakland web site


LA terminal expansion to allow better handling of increasingly larger vessels

The Port of Los Angeles announced this week it will begin construction this summer on a two-year, $127 million project to improve the marine terminal operated by Yusen Terminals, so that it can more efficiently handle larger vessels.

West Coast marine terminals’ inability to handle larger vessels was one of the main contributors to port congestion that wracked supply chains in late 2014 and early 2015. The increased scale in which larger vessels are being deployed on the trans-Pacific trade lane is relentless.

The average size of container ships calling the U.S. West Coast grew from those able to handle 4,682 twenty-foot equivalent units in 2009 to 5,780 TEUs in 2014, according to IHS Maritime & Research. The average vessel calling on the coast this year is expected to be about 6,000 TEUs.

More at the Journal of Commerce


Obama signs trade bills into law, says tough battle still ahead

U.S. President Barack Obama on Monday signed into law legislation that gives him “fast-track” power to push ahead on a Pacific Rim trade deal that has been the subject of intense debate in Congress and across the nation.

Flanked by some of the lawmakers who supported the bill through a six-week congressional battle, Obama acknowledged that his fight to secure the 12-nation Trans-Pacific Partnership was far from over.

Republicans, who traditionally support free trade deals, backed Obama and helped get the legislation through Congress. But they faced obstacles from skeptical Democrats, who worry the trade deal will hurt American jobs, and were pressured by unions to vote against the bills.

More at Reuters


US Labor chief, Congressman reject bills targeting port negotiations

Long Beach Press-Telegram photo. http://photos.presstelegram.com/2015/06/u-s-secretary-of-labor-thomas-e-perez-discuss-significant-improvements-in-port-cargo-flow/#14

U.S. Secretary of Labor Tom Perez during at visit to the Port of Los Angeles on Monday. Click on the image to view the rest of the gallery by Press-Telegram photographer Thomas R. Cordova.

Text from an article titled ”US Labor chief rejects bills seeking port labor-management system reform” in the Journal of Commerce:

From the U.S. Secretary of Labor Thomas E. Perez said Monday that bills before Congress seeking to avoid lengthy negotiations marked by slowdowns and employer retaliation that recently plagued West Coast ports aren’t the answer. His statement poured cold water on any hopes that the Obama administration would provide support for the legislation.

“I don’t support those bills. I don’t think they are necessary,” Perez told a gathering of port-related stakeholders in Los Angeles that included the heads of the West Coast longshore union, a group representing employers, congressional representatives whose districts include the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the top executives from the two largest U.S. ports.

U.S. Rep. Alan Lowenthal, whose district includes the Port of Long Beach, agreed with Perez. “I don’t think we need a legislative solution,” Lowenthal said. The PMA and ILWU know each other and are used to dealing with each other, he said. However, he added that it is important for the two mayors to be engaged in the negotiating process early on and keep it from dragging on, “but not to change the process,” he said.

More at the JOC


BNSF exec warns of congestion coming to East Coast

From the Journal of Commerce:

The same congestion that snarled U.S. Pacific Coast ports earlier this year is headed for ports on the East Coast, a BNSF Railway executive warned earlier this week.

“Port congestion, many have said, is not over,” Dean Wise, BNSF vice president of network strategy said Tuesday at the Council of Supply Chain Management Professionals’ State of Logistics event in Washington, D.C. “We’re seeing a lot of it shift to the East Coast.”

Wise suggested that the U.S. is witnessing a shift now, not only in cargo, but congestion, as East Coast ports continue to report cargo diversions, organic growth and larger vessels pulling into their waters.

Reports directly from port authorities have shown surging container volumes and rising vessel sizes have extended wait times for harbor truckers and vessels at some East Coast ports.

More at the Journal of Commerce


Asia-Europe to take hit as Cosco places mega ship order

Cosco has reportedly ordered nine 20,000-teu ships, with an option for four additional vessels of the same size, according to several news media.

The ultra-large container ship newbuilding order comes just days after Maersk Line ordered 11 similarly-sized vessels of 19,630-teu each. That order came after CMA CGM confirmed it had ordered six 14,000-teu ships, which came weeks after OOCL ordered six 21,000-teu container carriers.

The spate of new orders puts further pressure on the already strained rates on the flagship Asia-Europe service, which is currently suffering from record low freight rates as shipping lines wage war with one another in an attempt to secure volume and retain market share.

More at Arabian Supply Chain


Port of Charleston gains approval to deepen harbor

The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has given the green light to the Port of Charleston to deepen its harbor, a project port officials say is key to remaining a top destination for container ships on the East Coast.

The decision allows the South Carolina Ports Authority to deepen its harbor from 45 feet to 52 feet. The next step is a report from the Army Corps’ chief of engineers, expected in September, which will then be transmitted to Congress for approval. However, the feasibility and environmental studies were the main hurdle for the project, analysts say.

More at the Wall Street Journal


Panama Canal gets US grant for LNG terminal study

The Panama Canal Authority (ACP) has announced it has been awarded a grant by the US Trade and Development Agency (USTDA) to support the planning for a LNG import terminal.

When the Panama Canal expansion project is completed next year, the Canal is expected to handle significant LNG tanker traffic. In order to capitalise on this growth, the ACP is interested in developing LNG-related infrastructure projects, including an import terminal. The project has been on the ACP list of potential ventures to develop, once the Canal expanded would enter in operation.

More at Seatrade-Maritime


California ports moving beyond landlord status to address productivity problems

Excerpts from an article in the Journal of Commerce:

Even before they endured four months of embarrassing and costly work slowdowns during contract negotiations between the ILWU and the PMA in 2014-15, California’s landlord container ports knew they had a congestion problem. They are now addressing the main cause of port congestion, which is outdated cargo-handling processes.

Even though landlord ports do not employ dock labor and therefore can not get directly involved in the PMA-ILWU negotiations, Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, said the port directors since late last year were in daily contact with President Obama’s economic team via conference calls. The President sent Labor Secretary Thomas Perez to San Francisco in early January to help broker an agreement, and the deal was sealed shortly after Commerce Secretary Penny Pritzker attended the talks.

Seroka said the administration remains committed to improving West Coast port productivity, especially development of the port-related infrastructure that is needed to move cargo seamlessly to and from the ports. The ports must continue to work closely with the administration because it has only 18 months left in office, Seroka said. He added that Perez will visit the Port of Los Angeles on Monday to continue the dialogue.

More at the JOC


Sierra Club would block Port of Stockton rail expansion

The Sierra Club wants to stop the Port of Stockton’s planned $7.4 million rail project, one that would double the port’s rail freight capacity, until the agency conducts a full environmental review of its potential impacts.

The group filed a lawsuit in San Joaquin County Superior Court requesting the project be stopped.

Port commissioners awarded a contract May 4 for construction of about 25,000 feet of new track, enough to boost rail capacity to up to 12 bulk unit trains per week from the current six.

More at the Stockton Record


La Porte dockworkers may keep jobs after terminal shutdown

APM Terminals is shuttering its Houston-area La Porte operations by July 24, but handing over the container and cargo-handling operations over to the Port of Houston Authority at the Barbours Cut terminal facility.

APM Terminals had leased the facilities from the Port of Houston Authority. In a prepared statement, Port Authority spokeswoman Lisa Ashley said the two sides had agreed to end the lease and give control of the terminal over to the port.

She said the Port Authority will employ people to continue handling gate and yard services, but she declined to say how many of the APM dockworkers would be retained. Other services will be provided by companies employed by the ocean carriers, she added.

More at Fuel Fix


Port of Seattle hires new economic development director

From the Yakima Herald:

Longtime New Vision president Dave McFadden is resigning to become the Port of Seattle’s new economic development director.

During his time at New Vision, McFadden is credited with helping recruit 13 companies to the Yakima Valley that employ nearly 2,000 people, including Amtech, a manufacturing company in Wapato, and more recently, Bale Breaker Brewing Co. in Moxee.

As the Port of Seattle’s economic development director, he’ll be responsible for recruiting and retaining businesses, especially in aviation, manufacturing and maritime operations.

More at the Yakima Herald


Hapag-Lloyd warns of Port of Oakland delays

Hapag-Lloyd said that the labor shortages that continue to impact the Port of Oakland have resulted at times in 2-gang limit allocations per vessel by PMA.

“In addition, yard congestion and overutilization of the local chassis pools have further deteriorated turn times causing import cargo to dwell for both rail and local door,” the company added.

May was the busiest month in nearly four years at the Port of Oakland. The port handled 213,260 cargo containers last month.

More at World Maritime News