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.

Strikes could cripple Costa Rica’s Atlantic ports this week

[Note: SINTRAJAP union leaders have informed us that their peaceful protest today has completely shut down the Ports of Limon and Moin.]

The Union of Allied Port Workers (Sintrajap) is calling for a general strike this week that could cripple the country’s Atlantic ports, spurred on with support from the union that represents workers of the Board of Atlantic Coast Port Administration and Economic Development (Japdeva).

The unions are upset following meetings with the Solís government which failed to bring about changes in the concession for the planned Moín Container Terminal granted to the Dutch company, APM Terminals, which the unions claim will create an illegal monopoly in favor of the firm. Instead, the meetings resulted in President Luis Guillermo Solís publicly reiterating his support of the project.

Solís’ statements of support for the project seem to have been the final straw for the unions, who on Monday announced the call for a general strike.

Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court dismissed earlier this month an appeal filed by Sintrajap, which claimed that the concession as written would create an illegal monopoly. The appeal was the last legal alternative available to Sintrajap in its attempts to stop the project.

Sintrajap is also calling for the support of other labor unions throughout the country, in the form of protests in the streets of San Jose and Limon.

More at Inside Costa Rica


Union solidarity, international support lead to victory in Jordan

NOW FREED: Photo of trade union leaders being held in a police van following last week’s police raid.

Arrested for standing up for their union, now freed: Photo of trade union leaders being held in a police van following last week’s police raid.

Good news from ITF:

The ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) is pleased to announce that port workers at the Aqaba Container Terminals (ACT) facility in Jordan run by APM Terminals have gained a victory following international protests against a police roundup of union members.

Workers represented by the ITF-affiliated General Union of Port Workers went on strike last week over contract changes and ACT management’s failure to negotiate a collective bargaining agreement due since July. Almost as soon as the strike began, police raided the site and arrested 150, including the union’s leaders. Despite this and the attempted pre-prepared use of strikebreakers, the union – buoyed by support from the ITF and its affiliated unions in the region and globally – maintained its strike. It has now won its case, including the company’s waiving all penalties imposed during the strike, in particular rescinding 23 sackings; and a renewed commitment from the Jordanian government to have its grievances addressed by the national labour court.

Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and chair of the ITF dockers’ section, commented: “Everything about this affair smacks of pre-preparedness: sudden provocative contract changes, refusal to negotiate, then as soon as industrial action is taken in response, a sudden police raid and the arrival of strikebreakers. It looks a lot like an attempt to break the union. Well, the result has been the opposite – the union has won and has been made stronger. It’s being applauded by workforces outside the terminal for its stand and for its strong friendships.”

Mahmoud Mansour, vice president of the General Union of Port Workers, commented: “This victory came not just from our members’ determination, but from the support of the ITF and its affiliates. Our workers never lost sight for a minute of how many colleagues were supporting us across this region and worldwide.”

Paddy Crumlin concluded: “This victory comes at the same time as another one in Bahrain, where Svitzer, which provides services to the terminal run by APMT, had planned to make 11 tugboat crew redundant. There union action and solidarity, especially from trade unions in the Arab World, has again triumphed, with all 11 either getting their jobs back or choosing to take compensation and voluntary redundancy.”


LA-Long Beach congestion pushing up outbound spot truck rates

Excerpts from the Journal of Commerce:

Congestion and delays at the largest U.S. port complex are pushing up outbound spot market truck rates from the Los Angeles-Long Beach market, according to DAT Solutions.

As containers and shipments back up on the docks and in warehouses, outbound spot rates from the region are “atypically high,” said Mark Montague, DAT industry pricing analyst.

At the end of the day, the port delays, chassis shortages and rising spot rates “make it awfully challenging for supply chain managers to have the right things on the shelf,” Jon Slangerup, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, said at a California State University seminar Wednesday.

Read the rest at the JOC (free registration required)


Pay disputes and related grievances lead to 2-day job action at ICTSI

The Oregonian’s voiceover of company video shows Portland’s Terminal 6 resuming operations after a 2-day job action due to pay disputes and related grievances:


Port of Long Beach board directs staff to increase chassis supply

Port of Long Beach news release:

In its ongoing efforts to provide congestion relief to customers and stakeholders, the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners, at its Oct. 13 weekly meeting, directed Port of Long Beach staff to develop plans for purchasing and providing thousands of truck chassis for congestion relief during peak periods.

“We’ve been facilitating discussions about chassis issues for some time,” said Port of Long Beach Chief Executive Jon Slangerup. “Working with the Harbor Commission’s port efficiency subcommittee, we determined that the root cause of the current congestion crisis is the lack of chassis to support peak-level volumes – and no one else was stepping up to address this critical problem.”

The Board of Harbor Commissioners has established a subcommittee chaired by Commission Vice President Rich Dines, working with Commissioner Lori Ann Farrell, to focus on port efficiency.

At the Oct. 13 meeting, Port staff was directed by the full Harbor Commission at the urging of Slangerup to come up with a proposal within 30 days to obtain additional chassis. If needed, the Port would prepare to establish an organization to purchase, service and manage a pool of supplemental chassis to provide relief whenever there is a shortage of privately owned chassis.

One of the key issues identified by the Harbor Commission subcommittee and Port staff is a mismatch between supply and demand. Some privately operated terminals have an adequate supply of chassis while others are critically short. This imbalance is causing severe congestion at some terminals, particularly during peak shipping periods.

“This current peak congestion crisis is something that was avoidable,” said Slangerup, “and we are taking the necessary steps to prevent any such problems from happening again.”


Port workers threatening strike after court decision on Moín mega-terminal

SINTRAJAP Costa Rican dockworkers union invaded by police in 2010

Costa Rican dockworkers have been pushing back on privatization and the loss of union jobs and public programs for several years, including during this invasion of their SINTRAJAP union hall by federal police in 2010.

The Union of Allied Port Workers (Sintrajap) is threatening a strike after Costa Rica’s Constitutional Court dismissed an appeal last week against the new Moín Container Terminal filed by the union against the concession holder for the project, APM Terminals.

Sintrajap had claimed in its appeal that a particular clause in the concession would create an “illegal monopoly” giving APM Terminals the exclusive right to load and unload containers arriving in Limon. The appeal was the last legal alternative available to Sintrajap in its attempts to stop the project.

Carlos Brenes, an attorney representing the union, told reporters that the union would not back down, adding that in Limón’s history, “only strikes solve problems.”

More at Inside Costa Rica


Portland’s propane dreams called into question

From the Portland Mercury:

The Port of Portland, which hopes to place the propane terminal near Kelley Point Park on the east end of Terminal 6, even issued a statement last month calling the facility, pitched by Canadian firm Pembina, “one of the largest single private capital investments in the city’s history.”

And yet, the Mercury has learned, the fate of those big promises—indeed, the fate of the propane terminal itself—is already in doubt. Ironically, thanks to something quite small.

The project, as currently envisioned, runs afoul of the city’s zoning code—specifically, the city’s rules for safeguarding sensitive wildlife along the Columbia. And unless Portland City Council is willing to slightly tweak those rules, at a hearing as soon as next spring, then the project would be impossible to build.

More at the Portland Mercury


Frustration at LA-LB delays spills over at TPM Asia panel

More at the JOC

“I don’t care about how long it takes a ship to cross the ocean. When it gets to the other side, I want my cargo. I don’t want to be told, ‘Oh it went to LA.’ And then it might be 17 days before I get it off the docks,” said Rick Smith, vice president for global transportation at Sears Holdings.

The topic of what could be the worst gridlock to hit LA-Long Beach in decades was a dominant theme in a panel on shipper-carrier relationships on Day 2 of the 8th annual TPM Asia conference organized by JOC Group. The questions asked from the audience revealed the growing frustrations by shippers at the delays being faced at the ports. In an interview, one large import beneficial cargo owner, who did not want to speak on the record, said, “what I am seeing is a port that has historically been reliable is becoming much more uncertain. When we try to bring product in to LA-Long Beach, we’ve seen 2-3 week delays therefore we reverted back to our East Coast strategy.”

The BCO said about LA-Long Beach, “its daily phone calls, trying to pressure either the carrier to advise us on the status, or the cartage agent to tell us if we’re waiting on a chassis, that kind of stuff.”

More at the JOC


Panama pilots won’t reopen canal contract, citing safety risks

Excerpts from the Journal of Commerce:

Panama Canal Pilots - ILWU Logo

The Panama Canal Pilots Association, also known as the Asociación de Prácticos del Canal de Panamá, is a division of the ILWU.

The Panama Canal Pilots Union will not try to renegotiate its contract with the Panama Canal Authority this year as both parties are allowed under the existing contract.

The announcement by the union that represents the canal’s 256 pilots is the latest move in a simmering dispute over the loss of pilots’ jobs in the canal authority’s plans for guiding post-Panama ships into the large new locks that will open to traffic in early 2015.

Capt. Rainiero Salas, president of the Panama Canal Pilots’ Association, told JOC.com earlier this month that the navigation methods chosen to guide post-Panamax vessels into the new expanded locks and through the enlarged canal channels run higher risks of accidents than existing practices.

Salas said the pilots union’s announcement that it would not initiate renegotiation of the collective bargaining agreement was aimed at making clear “that our main interest is to maintain a safe and efficient canal, with strict compliance to applicable navigation rules and good seamanship standards. Our customers and the nation deserve no less.”

More at the JOC


APM Terminals building container terminal in Mexico’s Lazaro Cardenas; to be operational in 2016

Lazaro Cardenas map

APM Terminal is building a new container facility in the port of Lázaro Cárdenas, on the Mexican Pacific coast.

In 2012, APM Terminals signed a 32-year concession for the design, construction and operation of a new deepwater terminal at the port of Lázaro Cárdenas. The project will represent an overall investment of $900m, said APMT in a statement.

The first phase of the construction, which has already begun, of Terminal 2 (TEC2) will include 750 metres of quay, five ship-to-shore (STS) cranes, 22 automatic stacking cranes and two railway cranes, and will be able to accommodate very large container vessels.

The first 300 metres of quay are scheduled to be ready in the first quarter of 2015, which will be followed by the installation of the container handling equipment. “The completed terminal, which will add 1.2m teu of annual throughput capacity, is projected to become operational in the first half 2016,” said APM Terminals.

More at Seatrade Global


Bill to dissolve Waterfront Commission approved by N.J. Senate panel

A bill to dissolve a bi-state commission created to guard against unfair hiring practices and organized crime infiltration in the shipping industry was approved by the state Senate Budget and Appropriations Committee on Thursday.

The measure is co-sponsored by Sen. Raymond Lesniak (D-Union), and Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex), whose districts include shipping terminals in Elizabeth and Newark. Lesniak, a member of the committee, said during today’s hearing that, … the commission had overstepped its regulatory authority by interfering with the hiring of longshoremen, thereby contributing to a labor shortage that threatened the financial health of the port, an economic engine for the region.

His arguments echoed assertions in a lawsuit against the waterfront commission filed jointly by the International Longshoremen’s Association union and the New York Shipping Association, the port’s main employers’ group. However, a federal judge dismissed the suit, a decision the union and the shipping association have appealed.

More at the Star-Ledger


Gavilon CEO is leaving

Greg Heckman, president and CEO of Gavilon Group, LLC, announced Friday his decision to leave Gavilon after a 30-year career with the company. Chief Operating Officer Jim Anderson has been named president and chief executive officer, effective immediately.

After the company was formed in 2008 from the sale of ConAgra Trade Group, Heckman devoted the next five years to pursuing an aggressive growth strategy and established Gavilon as one of the big grain trading companies in the U.S. In 2012, Gavilon announced the sale of its agricultural business to Marubeni Corporation, one of the largest general trading companies in Japan.

More at the Lincoln Journal Star


Chassis crisis exacerbates port congestion, say industry leaders

Excerpts from a Journal of Commerce article called ‘Port delays driving dray drivers away’:

The shortage of truck drivers on U.S. highways is affecting drayage operations at port terminals and inland railheads, too. Frustrated by port congestion and chassis shortages, drayage drivers increasingly are looking for other jobs — both in and out of trucking.

That “outward migration” of drayage drivers and trucks threatens to slow shipper supply chains to a crawl as container chassis shortages, port congestion and drayage delay times get worse, Ken Kellaway, president and CEO of RoadOne IntermodaLogistics, told JOC.com.

“The root cause is chassis,” Jon Slangerup, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, told JOC.com last week. That complaint is echoed at ports across the U.S. Where shipping lines no longer provide chassis, locating chassis has become time-consuming and chaotic.

Read the rest at the JOC


Maersk says 2M will begin in January following FMC approval

From the Journal of Commerce:

Maersk Line said it will implement its 2M east-west alliance with Mediterranean Shipping Co. in January following its approval on Wednesday by the U.S. Federal Maritime Commission in a 4-1 vote.

In a statement on Thursday as reported by Reuters, Maersk said, “The U.S. was the only remaining jurisdiction where the parties had to obtain formal approval. Thus the parties can now implement the agreement as planned.”

In the FMC vote, Commissioner Richard Lidinsky was the lone dissenter — just like he was when the commission voted in March to allow the P3 Network, a vessel-sharing alliance that would have involved Maersk, MSC and CMA CGM. Chinese regulators then in June stunned the industry in rejecting the P3, saying it would be anti-competitive.

More at the JOC


Port labor talks worry retailers

From Thursday’s Los Angeles Business Journal:

West Coast port operators and dock workers have not had a contract since June, and retailers are starting to worry about whether they will get their shipments in time for the holiday shopping rush.

That’s the gist of the letter Matt Shay, chief executive of the National Retail Federation in Washington, sent today to leaders on both sides of the bargaining table. Shay contends the lack of a contract for longshore workers is to blame for congestion at West Coast ports.

Union spokesman Craig Merrilees said negotiators are trying to reach an agreement, but he was unimpressed by the National Retail Federation’s plea for workers to go back to the old deal.

“Who cares what the National Retail Federation thinks?,” he asked. “They’re anti-union, anti-worker. It’s Target and Walmart.”

More at the Los Angeles Business Journal