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.

US maritime regulator affirms ruling against Maher in NY-NJ case

From the Journal of Commerce

The U.S. Federal Maritime Commission has rejected Maher Terminals’ claim that Port Authority of New York and New Jersey acted illegally in granting a more favorable lease to adjacent APM Terminals.

The commission upheld a decision by a FMC administrative law judge who ruled that the port authority did not violate the Shipping Act by granting different terms to the terminals when it renewed their leases in 2000.

From the Journal of Commerce


Sides ‘far apart’ in West Coast port negotiations

Excerpts from the Associated Press:

While West Coast seaports struggle to keep up with billions of dollars of cargo, dockworkers and their employers apparently aren’t close to a new contract nearly six months after their old deal expired.

While work speed has been an issue in several major ports, so has an ongoing lack of truck beds to haul containers of goods from dockside yards to distribution warehouses. Hardest hit have been U.S. exporters of apples, potatoes and other produce, who can’t get their perishable goods to foreign markets in time. Some importers also have been affected, though not so badly to cause widespread shortages of holiday goods.

Negotiators for the association and the powerful International Longshore and Warehouse Union met Thursday in San Francisco. Neither side is publicly discussing what is happening behind closed doors, though each says proposals are being actively exchanged.

Read the rest here


Columbia River coal decision is at least a year away

The Morrow Pacific coal export proposal is effectively on hold until next year.

The Oregon Department of State Lands denied a key permit needed to construct a terminal at the Coyote Island terminal at Boardman’s Port of Morrow back in August.

The decision was a blow to the $242 million project. But backers, including the port appealed. Following a pre-hearing conference this week, the administrative law judge is tentatively scheduled to hear the formal case the week of Dec. 7 to 15, 2015.

More from the Portland Business Journal


Import cargo volume continues to grow at Port of Oakland

Containerized import volume continues to grow at the Port of Oakland. Through 11 months of 2014, imports are up 4% from a year ago, according to statistics released today. They increased 2.97% in November, the third straight month of gains over last year.

The Port handled the equivalent of 771,454 20-foot import containers in the first 11 months of 2014. That was up from 741,662 containers during the same period in 2013.

The Port attributed the increase to aggressive marketing, greater consumer demand and cargo diversions from congested Southern California ports.

From a Port of Oakland news release


Port of Long Beach cargo volume up 2.1 percent in November 2014

The Port of Long Beach’s cargo volume saw 2.1 percent growth in November when compared to the same month last year, but the modest rise was enough to mark the busiest November since 2007, the company said in its press release.

A total of 581,514 TEUs (twenty-foot equivalent units) were moved through the Port in November. Imports were recorded at 293,984 TEUs, down 0.9 percent from last year. Exports saw a 14.5 percent decrease to 129,960 TEUs. Empty containers surged to 157,570 TEUs, an increase of 30.2 percent.

Cargo numbers were flat in October and November at the Port of Long Beach. Retailers had the majority of their goods shipped in early autumn to be prepared for the busy holiday shopping season currently underway.

More at Port News


'Digging for truth' on the Nicaragua Canal

Nicaragua Canal Protest

Several thousand protesters, shouting ”We don’t want the Chinese”, protested in Managua, the capital, despite police efforts to keep them in their villages, activists say. Boatmen in Punta Gorda on the Caribbean coast have refused to ferry heavy machinery to be used to begin construction, fearing their livelihoods will be harmed.

From an article subtitled ‘Chinese construction is due to start—but of what?’ in this week’s Economist:

On December 22nd an odd couple — Nicaragua’s left-wing government and a Chinese-born telecoms magnate — say they will begin the realisation of a dream that has captivated Nicaraguans for generations: the construction of an inter-oceanic canal to rival Panama’s. According to Manuel Coronel, an octogenarian who runs the canal authority, their intentions are now beyond dispute. “When the bride and groom set a date, you know it’s serious,” he says.

But ask Mr Coronel just where construction will begin and who will pay for it, and he has no answers. Neither does HKND, the Hong Kong-based company run by Wang Jing, which is to build the $50 billion waterway. The project has been shrouded in secrecy since Nicaragua’s National Assembly awarded a 50-year concession to HKND in 2013. No feasibility study, environmental-impact report, business case or financing plan has yet been released. Instead come platitudes from the Sandinista government of Daniel Ortega about how it will bring a jobs bonanza and end poverty.

So far, it has brought as much fear as hope. Since Chinese-speaking surveyors, backed by Nicaraguan soldiers and police, began assessing land and houses along the canal’s proposed 278km (172-mile) route a few months ago, peasants fearful of their land being expropriated have taken to the streets 16 times.

Read the rest at this Economist link


Conciliation ahead in DP World dispute

DP World and the Maritime Union of Australia (MUA) have entered a second week of strikes and lockouts at each of the stevedoring company’s four terminals in Australia.

“This is a perfect opportunity for Mr Abbott to confound expectations and stand with Australian workers against a foreign-owned employer trying to remove their penalty rates,” MUA assistant national secretary Warren Smith said.

Meanwhile, DP World has sought intervention from a different source. Its application to the Fair Work Commission for conciliation hearings has been granted, with talks scheduled for the first working week of January.

More at Fully Loaded


Colombian Port Workers in Solidarity Against Police Violence

Buenavantura dockworkers - Black Lives Matter

Buenavantura dockworkers – Black Lives Matter

Featured in Paso International:

A Declaration Supporting the Movement Against Racism from the Port Workers Union, Buenaventura, Colombia.

Black lives matter in Buenaventura!

December 13, 2014

Today we are proud to stand with our brothers and sisters across the United States and around the world in response to the recent police killings of Eric Garner, Mike Brown and countless other victims of state violence. We unite with the international community to say that ‘black lives matter.’ While it should be implicit that all lives matter, communities in recent days have risen up to reinforce the fact that black and brown human beings have an equal place on this earth, because often times it feels that we do not. As residents of Buenaventura, Colombia, we know that our city could not be a clearer example of state imposed racism, segregation and inequality.

Buenaventura, a city whose residents are 90% Afro-Colombian, is Colombia’s most important port, exporting over 60% of the country’s goods. In spite of the wealth that passes through our community, we suffer from an unemployment rate four times higher than the national average, and 80% of our city’s residents live in poverty. While we support the ongoing talks being held in Cuba in order to end our country’s 50 year armed conflict, the only development that we have seen locally are emerging gangs that recruit our children and use increasingly brutal ways to murder our neighbors such as the casas de pique (chop houses). So today we take a stand as a community to say that ‘black lives matter.’

We stand here today as port workers whose bodies are broken every day to export the wealth of the country, while we don’t earn enough to feed our families. We stand as residents of one of the rainiest regions on the planet to demand that the city return our running water, something that disappeared when the system was privatized. We stand as workers with dangerous jobs, who live in a city that recently closed its only hospital. We stand here as parents afraid to let our children play outside or even go to school because gangs are trying to recruit them. We stand here today as people who have worked our entire lives but don’t have anything to show for it. We want a change. We stand here today as proud black people who demand that the local and national government stop ignoring our community and ensure basic human rights such as access to healthcare, dignified jobs, essential infrastructure and to the right to live in peace.

The residents of Buenaventura are uplifted by the tidal wave of people who have swelled into the streets of cities around the world to put an end to state-sanctioned violence against communities of color. We stand in solidarity with Ferguson and New York City and can feel the rumblings of marching feet in our own community.


ILWU recesses caucus, awaits PMA response to contract proposal

The Journal of Commerce reported on Tuesday:

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union today recessed the caucus that it opened on Monday as the union awaited a response from the Pacific Maritime Association on its latest contract proposal.

Last Thursday, the PMA presented a new contract offer to the ILWU. Union negotiators reviewed the proposal over the weekend, and on Monday returned it to the PMA with the ILWU’s comments. That is where the negotiations stood today.

PMA spokesman Steve Getzug said employers continued to review the document, and they expect to meet again with the ILWU later this week. No date was given.

More at the JOC


Dockers rally to protect jobs in Rotterdam

Santa supports Rotterdam dockworkers

Santa joins leaders of European unions and thousands of longshore workers worldwide in supporting Rotterdam dockworkers.

Dockers from across Europe are joining their brothers and sisters at a rally in Rotterdam today (Wednesday 17 December) to protest against the impact of developments in the container sector at the port there. ITF-affiliated union FNV Havens is concerned over the potential loss of employment and reduced working conditions as a result of an increase in automation and the expansion in capacity from Rotterdam Gateway and the construction of Maasvlakte II.

Rotterdam World Gateway (RWG) is a joint venture of four shipping lines and global network giant Dubai Ports World.

National secretary of FNV ports in the Netherlands, Niek Stam commented: “When taking decisions on port expansion neither the administration nor the port authority in Rotterdam has taken into account the impact it could have on employment, on normal working families in this city.

“We want to work with our employers and port authority to try and find joint answers to the problems workers are facing such as the threat of losing jobs and overcapacity. But management just don’t seem to be interested. Our priority is dialogue and all parties moving forward positively together. Another issue is to secure a collective bargaining agreement for workers at RWG to secure a level playing field in the industry. That’s why we’re holding this rally.”

Speaking on the international support for Rotterdam dockers, ETF dockers’ section chair Terje Samuelsen added: “Our union members worldwide are standing together on this because that’s the only way to defend the rights, jobs and pride of dockworkers.”

The rally will start at 10.30 GMT from Willemskade Rotterdam to Wilhelminaplein (opposite side of the Erasmusbridge) and will end at 14.00 GMT.

See more pictures of today’s rally at this ITF link.


Australia: Striking dock workers to protest at Citibank headquarters as industrial war heats up

Maritime Union of Australia Victorian secretary Kevin Bracken.

Kevin Bracken, MUA Victorian secretary, confirmed workers would take to the streets. ”This is the biggest dispute since Patrick’s; it is the most industrial action since 1998,” he said. Mr Bracken said that Citibank would be targeted because DP World was being poorly run under its control.

Striking dock workers will march through city streets today as the biggest dispute since the 1998 Patrick lockout heats up.

The Maritime Union of Australia is in a fierce battle with stevedoring company DP World over a new pay deal that is deadlocked after 11 months of talks.

Up to 600 MUA workers will descend on the Melbourne headquarters of Citibank, whose parent company Citigroup owns 75 per cent of DP World, at 1pm.

The dispute has echoes of the 1998 waterfront war, which erupted when stevedoring company Patrick locked out its workers and tried to replace them with strike breakers secretly trained in Dubai.

More at the Herald Sun


Thousands take to street in Nicaragua to protest China canal deal

Nicaragua Canal protest in Managua

More than a thousand people protested against the project in Managua.

A massive demonstration rocked Nicaragua’s capital of Managua as protestors opposed to the construction of a US$50 billion Nicaragua Canal took to the streets on Wednesday. Some protesters held banners reading “Chinese get out!” and “No canal.” The project, which is to begin construction on Dec. 22 and scheduled to be completed in 2019, will dwarf the neighboring Panama Canal. It will be 278 kilometers in length and pass through Central America’s largest lake.

One protester said he does not want to see the lake being cut in half and the fact that a foreign company will operate the canal for a century means that not even his children will see benefits from the project.

The Hong Kong company’s ability to carry out the project was questioned since its founder, Chinese businessman Wang Jing, has no experience in developing or financing infrastructure projects. The company was only established in August of 2012.

Read the rest at Want China Times


ILWU responds to PMA labor contract offer

Excerpts from Monday’s Journal of Commerce:

In a give-and-take effort that may push contract negotiations forward, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union is waiting for the Pacific Maritime Association to respond to its comments on the latest offer from U.S. West Coast employers.

ILWU spokesman Craig Merrilees said the PMA at the end of last week forwarded a “new proposal” to the union. ILWU negotiators met internally over the weekend, and returned the proposal with the union’s comments. The ILWU caucus in San Francisco that opened Monday morning addressed the document and is awaiting the PMA’s response.

Read the rest at the JOC


Report: U.S. has too much coal export capacity

The United States used only 34 percent of its total coal export capacity and does not need additional terminals, according to a new report that casts doubt on plans to develop new ports on the Columbia River.

The Institute for Energy Economics and Financial Analysis, a Cleveland-based nonprofit, released a report recently by Tom Sanzillo that concludes that the country’s existing coal ports are operating well below capacity.

The report concludes it would be folly to continue to pursue new coal export terminals, including several proposed for the Northwest.

More in the Portland Business Journal


Brazilian port Manaus to invest in automation after gaining private use status

The Brazilian port of Manaus will invest R$97 million (US 37.4 million) in automation at one container terminal and at a general cargo facility and buy new equipment after receiving private use status, exempting it from certain labor rules.

Superterminais, which handles containers, breakbulk and project cargo in the state of Amazonas, is the 25th facility to be granted Terminal de Uso Privado, or a TUP or Private Use Terminal, status since a disappointing new Brazilian port law was passed in June of 2013.

The law is considered a failure so far because of the more than 130 promised port concessions — worth US $2.24 billion total — only a fraction have been realized. Twenty-five concessions totaling R$9.54 billion have been awarded. Critics of the port law say that many of these TUPs were already operating or in process before the law was passed.

More at the Journal of Commerce