Disclaimer

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.

House Republicans push forward anti-union ‘right-to-work’ bill

From Think Progress:

Earlier this month, Republican Reps. Steve King (IA) and Joe Wilson (SC) re-introduced a so-called right-to-work bill that would significantly hamper unions across the country and likely lower wages for all Americans.

On the campaign trail, President Trump said he is “100 percent” in favor of right-to-work laws.

So far, 27 states have gone right-to-work. And in those states, workers are much less likely to be in a union: Those in non-right-to-work states are about two-and-a-half times more likely to be in one or protected by a union contract.

Research has found that this has a serious impact on everyone’s wages, even those not in unionized workplaces.

More at Think Progress

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Hawaii shipper Matson reports lower Q4 profit

From the Pacific Business Journal:

Matson Inc., Hawaii’s largest shipper, reported fourth quarter net income of $19.4 million, or 44 cents per diluted share, compared to $26.6 million, or 60 cents per diluted share, for the comparable quarter in 2015.

Matson attributed the lower earnings for the quarter to an increase in bunker fuel prices in November and December.

Revenue for the quarter was $519.3 million, compared with $494.8 million in the fourth quarter 2015.

Read more at the Pacific Business Journal

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Maersk to get EU decision on Hamburg Süd deal by March 27

From World Maritime News:

Danish shipping giant Maersk Line is scheduled to receive the EU antitrust regulator’s decision on the company’s plan to purchase the Germany-based Hamburg Süd by March 27, according to Reuters.

The deal, reached at the beginning of December 2016 amid a consolidation period in the industry, was filed to the European Commission on February 20.

Reuters informed that the EU competition can extend the review by some two weeks or open a five-month investigation, adding that the Danish carrier might be asked to end its membership in some shipping alliances in order to receive the approval for the Hamburg Süd deal.

More at World Maritime News

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Grain train derails at Bunge facility

Bunge grain facility in Emporia, Kansas

Work crews try to get a train car uprighted Saturday afternoon after a derailment at Bunge Oilseed Processing. Photo by Chuck Samples/KVOE News.

Details are still pending after at least one and as many as three train cars overturned at Emporia, Kansas’ Bunge Oilseed Production facility recently.

KVOE News was told on site Saturday that three cars had derailed off a spur leading from the Burlington Northern Santa Fe main line to the plant. Cleanup was in process virtually all day Saturday.

KVOE News has reached out to Bunge at the local and corporate level to determine exactly how the derailment happened and how the situation is being resolved. No injuries were reported.

More at KVOE

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The Jones Act under attack

Posted at Maritime Executive:

Over the years, lawmakers and presidents have proposed making somewhat controversial changes to the Jones Act. Some have gone so far as to recommend repealing it entirely as Senator John McCain did in 2015.

The Jones Act, passed in 1920, protects legally-defined maritime workers and helps maintain a safe and efficient maritime industry by holding employers accountable for worker injuries and fatalities.

The Jones Act has played an important role in protecting maritime workers and in pushing for safe working environments for them. It has also played a big role in helping to maintain a vital, safe and efficient maritime industry for both peace and war time in the U.S.

More at Maritime Executive

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Hanjin Shipping declared bankrupt as Port of Long Beach recovers

From the Los Angeles Business Journal:

As Hanjin Shipping Co. finally sank Friday, the Port of Long Beach looked to a future without its most important cargo carrier and former lease-holder of its largest terminal.

A South Korean court declared Hanjin bankrupt Friday, officially ending the company’s 40-year history in the global shipping trade.

Since the debt-laden company filed for bankruptcy protection Aug. 31, cargo volume has plummeted at the port, particularly at the formerly Hanjin-controlled Pier T, which has since been acquired by another shipper.

“Going forward with Pier T … we have every confidence that the port will have cargo coming in,” said Lee Peterson, a spokesman for the Port of Long Beach.

More at the Business Journal

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Trump names Alexander Acosta as labor secretary nominee

Trump’s first disastrous nominee, Andrew Puzder, withdrew his name from consideration. Today Politico reports that Trump has chosen pick number two:

President Donald Trump on Thursday announced his intent to nominate Alexander Acosta, a former Justice Department official and current dean of Florida International University College of Law, for labor secretary, just a day after first pick, fast-food CEO Andrew Puzder, backed out.

Acosta, who was born in Cuba, would become the first Hispanic member of Trump’s cabinet. He has been confirmed by the Senate for three prior positions, which could help smooth his path to the Labor Department.

Still, his background is not without some controversy, including allegations that, while a U.S. attorney in Miami, he cut a sweetheart plea deal in 2008 with a billionaire investor accused of having sex with dozens of underage girls.

More at Politico

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Puzder can't be labor secretary; he's anti-labor

Opinion from the Workplace Justice Project and the Centro de los Derechos del Migrante in the Baltimore Sun:

President Trump campaigned on promises of higher wages and better jobs, but he has betrayed those promises with his nomination of fast-food chain CEO Andrew Puzder for secretary of the Department of Labor.

The Department of Labor exists, according to its own mission statement “to foster, promote, and develop the welfare of the wage earners, job seekers and retirees of the United States; improve working conditions; advance opportunities for profitable employment; and assure work-related benefits and rights.” It is an entity charged with enforcing our basic workplace laws, like minimum wage and overtime requirements and laws that protect worker health and safety. Yet instead of choosing a champion of workers, Mr. Trump chose a millionaire contemptuous of the very department he has been tapped to lead.

Mr. Puzder is the CEO of CKE Restaurants, parent company of the Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s fast-food chains. He has demonstrated outright hostility to workers, including those at his own business. He would like to replace his employees with machines to avoid having to provide benefits because machines are “always polite, they always upsell, they never take a vacation, they never show up late, there’s never a slip-and-fall, or an age, sex, or race discrimination case.”

Read more about this ray of sunshine at the Baltimore Sun

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Experts warn of carrier alliances causing congestion, disruption at U.S. ports

Excerpts from an article titled ”’Shotgun start’ of new alliances to test port productivity” in the Journal of Commerce:

Concern is growing that major US gateways won’t be able to handle the overnight changes that will occur at marine terminals when new ocean carrier alliances take effect on April 1. A new bout of congestion is potentially just weeks away.

Experts say they can see it coming a mile away; problems are inevitable any time the normal routine is disrupted at a marine terminal. … That’s the scenario beneficial cargo owners will face in a little more than a month, particularly at ports with multiple terminals, such as Los Angeles and Long Beach. A variety of changes to the normal routine will occur virtually overnight.

“On the trans-Pacific, there will be significant disruption come April when the new services are introduced,” said Tan Hua Joo, executive consultant with Alphaliner.

Read the full article at the Journal of Commerce

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Maersk Line defers delivery of new container ships to prop up cashflow

From The Loadstar:

Maersk Line is to postpone delivery of nine newbuild 14,000 teu ‘utility’ ships with the last vessel to be received at the end of 2018, instead of at the end of this year.

Maersk Line says it does not need the ships as it is able to charter vessels of this size easily and cheaply in the current depressed market, and has recently taken on long-term charter six former Hanjin-operated 13,100 teu vessels at a fraction of the daily hire rate the South Korean carrier paid.

More at The Loadstar

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Developers withdraw coal terminal applications, ending Gateway Pacific project at Cherry Point

From the Bellingham Herald:

Developers of the proposed coal terminal at Cherry Point have withdrawn its permit applications, essentially closing the book on the project.

Pacific International Terminals sent a letter Tuesday to Whatcom County officials announcing it was stopping the environmental impact statement process and is withdrawing its applications for the Gateway Pacific Terminal.

The company, which is a subsidiary to SSA Marine, said it is looking into other alternatives, including modifications to the project. It is not abandoning any other rights it may have on the property, said Skip Sahlin, vice president of project development for SSA Marine.

More at the Bellingham Herald

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How has your Senator voted on Trump nominees so far?

The New York Times makes it easy to find out where our Senators stand:

The Senate has confirmed each of President Trump’s nominees that it has voted on so far. Fifteen members of the cabinet and eight other top administration posts require Senate confirmation.

All but three of the “no” votes have come from Democrats and have essentially been symbolic statements of opposition. Nominees need only a simple majority to be confirmed, and Republicans hold 52 seats in the Senate.

See the New York Times chart here

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Port of Oakland exports continue to soar in 2017

From a Port of Oakland news release:

New year, same old story at the Port of Oakland: exports are on the rise again. The Port said today that containerized export volume increased 9 percent last month compared to January 2016. It was the seventh straight month of rising exports in Oakland, and the 12th increase in 13 months.

Containerized imports increased last month, too, rising 3.6 percent. Overall, loaded container volume at the Port was up 6.1 percent.

The Port said agricultural commodities continue to drive Oakland export increases. For instance, strong harvests and aggressive marketing helped boost overseas sales of California almonds last month.

Read the rest here

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Maersk slumps to only its second annual loss in seven decades

Excerpts from the Financial Times:

Shares in Maersk fell as much as 7 per cent on Wednesday as it reported only its second annual loss in seven decades and halved its dividend to try to protect its investment grade credit rating.

Maersk recorded a net loss of $1.9bn for 2016, compared with analysts’ expectations of a $960m profit, as it booked impairments of $2.7bn on its oil rig and supply services units.

Soren Skou, chief executive, said Maersk Line, which is in the middle of buying German rival Hamburg Sud, won market share from competitors throughout the year and was well placed to benefit from an anticipated recovery in the container shipping industry. He forecast an improvement of at least $1bn in Maersk Line’s profit this year.

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7 months in, expanded Panama Canal still faces challenges

Excerpts from the Associated Press:

Loaded with more than 6,000 cargo containers, the ship Ever Living prepared for the final leg of its journey through the newly expanded Panama Canal when things hit a snag: The last of the massive steel lock doors failed to open all the way.

The pilots controlling the ship and the captains of the tugboats tethered to huge vessel opted to continue guiding it through the narrowed passageway, passing nerve-wrackingly close to the side of the locks to avoid running into the stuck door.

“These are things that shouldn’t happen,” tugboat captain Mauricio Perez said. “Sometimes the only thing we can do is pray.”

A little over seven months after authorities launched a much-ballyhooed, $5.25 billion canal expansion to accommodate many of the world’s largest cargo vessels, they have yet to fully work out a significant kink: With little margin for error, ships are still scraping the walls and prematurely wearing out defenses designed to protect both the vessels and the locks themselves.

Even before the canal opened in late June, tugboat pilots had expressed concern about what they said was insufficient training for maneuvers that are now required — and that are a radical departure from the previous system.

In the old locks, which are still in use, ships get tethered to powerful locomotives on both sides that keep them centered in the canal. In the new locks, that responsibility falls to the tugs, one tied to the bow and another to the stern.

“It is like threading the eye of a needle,” said pilot Alvaro Moreno.

More at the Associated Press

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