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.

First ship passes through newly expanded Panama Canal

From ABC:

Thousands gathered on both sides of the Panama Canal locks yesterday to watch the first ship pass from the Atlantic to Pacific Ocean through the newly opened $7.45 billion expansion to the canal.

As time-lapse footage illustrates, the century-old canal is now open to a new generation of supersized cargo ships after years of massive expansion works aimed at profiting from burgeoning US-Asia trade.

A giant Chinese-chartered freighter, baptised COSCO Shipping Panama especially for the occasion, made its way along the 80 kilometre waterway linking the Atlantic and Pacific oceans.

Its passage was to show off the third shipping lane and gargantuan locks built into the canal catering to vessels of its class, known as Neopanamax, or New Panamax, ships.

It stopped in the locks giving access to the Pacific, where VIPs and 25,000 Panamanians had gathered to celebrate the inauguration.

More at ABC


United Kingdom’s Brexit vote: ITF and ETF comment

Eduardo Chagas, ETF

”The ETF deeply regrets the outcome of the UK Brexit referendum. It is a sad but strong signal that an adequate European Union social policy is absent, and has sent workers away from the European project. The EU’s policies do not reflect workers’ expectations; a change has to come rapidly before other countries follow Britain’s example.” — Eduardo Chagas, ETF General Secretary

Statement from the European Transport Workers’ Federation and the International Transport Workers’ Federation:

24 June 2016

Commenting on this morning’s result, ITF (International Transport Workers’ Federation) president Paddy Crumlin said: “As democrats and trade unionists we respect the decision, hairsbreadth narrow though it was. As democrats and trade unionists we also pledge ourselves to working to preserve the gains made in worker protections in the last decades, and to continue to fight for more. We will not see workers, wherever they are in Europe or elsewhere, undefended and paying the price of the economic injustices and decisions of recent years. Workers should not pay the price of Brexit.”

Eduardo Chagas, general secretary of the ETF (European Transport Workers’ Federation), stated: “The ETF deeply regrets the outcome of the UK Brexit referendum. It is a sad but strong signal that an adequate European Union social policy is absent, and has sent workers away from the European project. The EU’s policies do not reflect workers’ expectations; a change has to come rapidly before other countries follow Britain’s example.”

Steve Cotton, ITF general secretary, added: “Trade unions are a major democratic force. The ITF is a key member of that international union community, and it is our job to reach across borders to help and represent the workers of all nations.

“The ITF will continue to fight for workers’ rights and against the race to the bottom and the injustices of austerity. We will defend rights and public services across borders because, as an international organisation dedicated to equality and solidarity, that is what we do. We remain dedicated to internationalism, cooperation and tolerance.”

Source: ITF


AP Møller-Maersk considers break-up

One of Europe’s biggest industrial conglomerates is debating whether to split itself up after Denmark’s AP Møller-Maersk fired its chief executive and launched a sweeping strategic review.

Maersk’s shares jumped 12 per cent on Thursday after news of the potential shake-up and the appointment of Soren Skou, the head of container shipping unit Maersk Line, as group chief executive. He will replace Nils Andersen from Friday next week.

As well owning the world’s largest container shipping line, Maersk has an oil exploration business, drilling rigs, port terminals, and various logistics and other marine services. Mr Skou will lead the strategic review.

More at the Financial Times


3 reasons why SoCal ports aren't worried about the expanded Panama Canal

Port of Long Beach

Excerpts from Southern California Public Radio:

After a massive nine-year, $5.4 billion expansion, a considerably larger Panama Canal opens Sunday.

But executives at the ports of L.A. and Long Beach, as well as those who study trade, don’t predict this new expansion will hurt Southern California’s port business.

Here are three reasons why:

1. It’s still usually faster and cheaper to go through the west coast

2. The Panama Canal still does not accommodate the biggest mega ships.

3. Even if local ports do lose some market share, they will continue to have strong growth.

Read the full article at SCPR


11,000 agents to guard inauguration of Panama Canal expansion

Security at the inauguration of the Panama Canal expansion next Sunday will be assured by more than 11,000 agents along with special measures like closing the airspace over the waterway beginning the day before, the authorities announced Tuesday.

Eleven heads of state and government, the king emeritus of Spain and delegations of some 50 countries have confirmed their attendance at the expansion inauguration, to be observed by some 20,000 onlookers.

The inaugural event will begin early Sunday, when the container ship Cosco Shipping Panama, a New Panamax freighter from China, will enter the equally new Agua Clara lock from the Atlantic to make the inaugural crossing. Panamanian authorities will greet it there along with 5,000 spectators.

More at FOX Latino


ILWU worker in critical condition after fall at Longview, WA log yard

Our Brother is not being publicly identified at this time. Our thoughts and prayers are with him and his family as we hope for his recovery. From The Daily News:

A dockworker was in critical condition Tuesday afternoon after a fall at the Weyerhaeuser Co. log yard.

Longview fire officials and AMR responded to the incident at about 2 p.m. Tuesday, said battalion chief Troy Buzalsky. Medics were basket-lifted from the docks to an adjacent ship, where they treated an unconscious male adult, he said.

The longshore foreman was not working for Weyerhaeuser at the time of the incident; rather, he had been hired by S.S.A. Pacific to load logs on behalf of a Weyerhaeuser customer, said Joe Abram, general manager for S.S.A.

“We are concerned for the well-being of our employee, and we appreciate the fast response and efforts of the ILWU, Weyerhaeuser first responders and the Longview Fire Department,” Abram said.

More at the Daily News


San Diego cruise ship terminal gets solar energy system as calls expected to rise 50%

Port of San Diego solar system

The project, with 630 panels, is the fourth solar system at a port facility and is expected to double the output of the other three combined, port officials said.

A $341,000 solar energy system that’s expected to provide 70 percent of the power needed at the B Street Cruise Ship Terminal should be operational by the end of the month, the Port of San Diego announced Monday.

The 167-kilowatt photovoltaic system at the San Diego’s primary docking facility for cruise ships is expected to generate enough energy to power 20 homes and reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 187 metric tons annually, according to the port.

Board of Port Commissioners Chairman Marshall Merrifield said, “This Port Environmental Fund improvement project is being completed just as we celebrate growth in our cruise business, with an increase in calls of about 50 percent projected from this season to next.”

More at 10 News


FMC Chairman Mario Cordero urges ocean carriers to accept obvious path to VGM compliance

MSC Napoli disaster, 2007

The MSC Napoli disaster of 2007 was one of many incidents that brought container weight safety issues to the forefront.

With the July 1 implementation date for new container weighing requirements fast approaching, Chairman of the Federal Maritime Commission Mario Cordero said the time has come for ocean carriers to embrace the obvious solution to achieving compliance that Marine Terminal Operators can offer.

Specifically, Cordero asserted the weight of export containers, as determined by terminal operators, can and should be classified as the Verified Gross Mass (VGM) of the container.

Cordero also noted that any VGM compliance regime established under the auspices of a discussion agreement on file at the Federal Maritime Commission that adds burdens to declaring container weights will invite increased scrutiny by the Commission.

“There is a course to SOLAS VGM compliance provided by the Coast Guard that is not only not burdensome, it requires no additional action at all. Why anyone would add procedures, requirements and costs to doing business is not only puzzling, it raises the specter of anticompetitive behavior and necessitating Commission action,” said Cordero. “Using the weight taken at the terminal gate for the purposes of satisfying the need for a verified weight of a container is a simple and efficient solution for assuring the continued smooth flow of export cargoes.”

More at the American Journal of Transportation


Pendleton Grain Growers sells assets to United Grain Corp.

United Grain at the Port of Vancouver USA on the Columbia River

Pendleton Grain Growers has agreed to sell its assets to United Grain Corporation, whose grain export terminal is at the Port of Vancouver USA on the Columbia River. ILWU Local 4 members load the grain ships.

The East Oregonian reports that officials announced Tuesday that United Grain Corporation, of Vancouver, Washington, has agreed to buy all of Pendleton Grain’s assets including facilities, contracts and inventory.

According to a release, United Grain is in the process of opening Pendleton offices and has retained a majority of Pendleton Grain’s employees.

More at KTVZ


Jo Cox MP: in memoriam

Jo Cox

”Jo was very well known within and throughout the labour and progressive movement in the UK and the world for her extraordinary commitment to peace and human rights and her leadership and absolute commitment to build a more functional fairer and accountable world.” — Paddy Crumlin, ITF president and MUA national secretary

Speaking in memory of Jo Cox MP, ITF president and MUA national secretary Paddy Crumlin said:

“We pass on the deepest and most profound sympathy and condolences of the affiliates, members, offices and staff of the ITF, including the Maritime Union of Australia, to the family, friends and comrades of Jo Cox, who was so brutally and senselessly taken from them and us.

Jo was very well known within and throughout the labour and progressive movement in the UK and the world for her extraordinary commitment to peace and human rights and her leadership and absolute commitment to build a more functional fairer and accountable world.

Her work in campaigning and activism in pursuit of that ideal was inspirational, courageous consistent and pervasive. Small in stature but huge in compassion, empathy and courage, Jo was transformative to all that had the blessing of her company and of course most importantly to the exploited, damaged and isolated human beings throughout the world and in her own country and community she dedicated her life to.

Her work against slavery, for a sustainable peace, for refugees and especially for the world’s dislocated and vulnerable children shines and will continue to shine as a beacon for trust, hope, determination and love now and into the future

Her life and work reassure our international family of the importance and value of our lives and work in turn.

We sincerely hope that the regard she was held in and the grief and sympathy we held and hold for her gives some relief and comfort for her husband Brendan , her children, family friends and comrades at this most searing and grievous moment.

Vale sister Jo Cox, mother, wife, community and political leader and genuine and committed internationalist and human rights activist. Now at peace.”

ITF general secretary Steve Cotton stated:

“In what was a shocking, tragic taking of a young life – a life that fought for ideals of fairness, togetherness and compassion – to Brendan, the children, and all those who were privileged enough to know her, our thoughts are with you. At this hugely difficult time, we hope you find strength and take heart knowing that Jo was, and will remain, a force for all that is good. Her campaigning, her activism, her determination to help those in need touched countless lives. She stood up for peace, social justice and human rights. She was a well-known and loved figure inside the labour movement, but the reaction of people in the UK and around the world shows just how much she and her life’s work meant to so many people.

For us in the labour movement, her legacy will live on.”

Source: ITF


Port of Long Beach sees second-busiest May in 105-year history

POLB rail yard

Port of Long Beach Pier B rail yard

The Port of Long Beach (POLB) saw its second-busiest May in the port’s 105-year history, bringing in 640,566 TEUs, according to a report released Tuesday.

Container cargo numbers improved slightly last month, rising 0.8 percent compared to May of last year when the docks were still rushing to catch up after several months of congestion.

Imports rose one percent to 330,639 TEUs, exports rose two percent to 138,594 TEUs, and empties were flat at 171,333 TEUs, off just 0.4 percent compared to the same month last year, while the year-to-date total is down 1.5 percent compared to the first five months of 2015, according to the report.

More at the Long Beach Post


Bloomberg View: Ships Have Gotten Too Big

Benjamin Franklin

”In recent years, mega-vessels have caused traffic jams in the water and on-shore as overwhelmed ports struggle to offload thousands of containers.”

What’s a major cause of congestion at our ports? An important from piece Bloomberg View:

In December, the quarter-mile-long Benjamin Franklin became the largest cargo ship ever to dock at a U.S. port. Five more mega-vessels were supposed to follow, creating a trans-Pacific shipping juggernaut by the end of May. But thanks to a massive miscalculation on the part of the fleet’s owner — there’s not enough demand for all that shipping — the Benjamin Franklin made its last U.S. port visit a few weeks ago.

It was an ignominious end to an overly ambitious plan. But it shouldn’t have been a surprise. The shipping industry is struggling through its worst recession in half a century, and that icon of globalization — the mega-container ship — is a major part of the problem. With global growth and trade still sluggish, and the benefits of sailing and docking big boats diminishing with each new generation, ship owners are belatedly realizing that bigger isn’t better.

The news is only getting worse for big ships. In recent years, mega-vessels have caused traffic jams in the water and on-shore as overwhelmed ports struggle to offload thousands of containers. The expense in worker overtime and cargo delays can be significant. Making matters worse, the bigger ships make fewer port visits, leaving operators wondering if they should invest in costly renovations for what would amount to infrequent stopovers.

Read the rest at Bloomberg


FMC Chairman addresses US-China regulatory issues

Consolidation of shipping lines, realignment of carriers alliances, environmental improvements in the shipping industry and achieving supply chain efficiencies were all among topics addressed during the U.S.-China Bilateral Maritime Consultations held in Los Angeles last week.

Federal Maritime Commission (FMC) Chairman Mario Cordero co-headed the U.S. delegation to the meeting with Deputy Maritime Administrator Michael Rodriguez. The consultations are organized by the Maritime Administration and the Chinese Ministry of Transportation and take place on a regular basis. This year’s session was held June 1-2.

During the two-day session, Cordero led discussions on a number of key topics where the FMC has jurisdiction or particular competence. Two developing matters related to China and shipping were the merger of China Ocean Shipping Company and China Shipping Container Lines; and, the significant change in shipping company alliances that is taking place as a result of other merger and acquisition activity in the broader container shipping industry. Cordero also addressed ways in which the FMC is working to reduce port congestion by discussing the Supply Chain Innovation Teams Initiative launched earlier this year and being headed by Commissioner Rebecca Dye; and, he provided a briefing on how two different port alliance agreements filed at the Commission by the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and Seattle-Tacoma seek to improve efficiencies in those respective regions.

More at Marine Link


Sanders demands Democratic Party reforms

Excerpts from Politico:

Politico photo

Bernie Sanders delivers a message outside his campaign office in Washington, D.C. earlier today.

Bernie Sanders delivered a simple message Tuesday at a press conference outside his campaign’s Capitol Hill office: The Democratic Party needs to be transformed, and he plans to push for that all the way through the Democratic National Convention in Philadelphia.

“We need a person at the leadership at the DNC who is vigorously supporting and out working to bring people into the political process,” Sanders said, before stressing the need for “the most progressive platform ever passed by the Democratic Party. A platform which makes it crystal clear that the Democratic Party is on the side of working people.”

“We also need obviously to get rid of superdelegates,” Sanders said. “The idea that we had 400 superdelegates pledged to a candidate some eight months or more before the first ballot was cast is to my mind absurd. And we need to also make sure that superdelegates do not live in a world of their own but reflect, reflect, the views of the people of their own state.”

More at Politico


Amendment to exempt Puerto Rico from Jones Act rejected

The US House of Representatives Rules Committee has rejected a proposed bill amendment that would have exempted Puerto Rico from the requirements of the Jones Act.

Opposition to the amendment, led strongly by the American Maritime Partnership (AMP) said that lifting Jones Act requirements would be of little economic help to the Caribbean island, which is an unincorporated US territory. It also said that exemption would weaken US and Puerto Rican security.

In explaining its rejection, the Rules Committee stated that the amendment was not pertinent to the Bill.

More at Splash 247