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.

Port of Astoria reinforces ailing log-export dock

From The Daily Astorian:

The Port of Astoria will spend nearly $80,000 over the next few months replacing fender pilings on the west side of Pier 1 in a stopgap measure to keep its lucrative log-export dock operating.

All 60 of the wooden pilings on the 380 feet of Pier 1’s western face, where longshoremen load log ships for Astoria Forest Products, are in need of replacement, according to a report to the Port Commission Tuesday. The $78,580 approved by the commission would replace 24 pilings, evenly spaced in groups of four across the dock.

The wooden pilings will keep the dock open while the Port develops a long-term, multiphase plan to install more durable steel pilings sheathed in polyurethane. McGrath estimated the cost of the project at $750,000 to $1 million for the entire dock, saying the process would be spread out over hopefully no more than three years.

“There have been comments from ships’ captains saying, ‘Hey, that dock does not look like it’s going to support us,’” Matt McGrath, the Port’s director of operations, said. “Pier 1 is our golden goose. That’s where we get 20 to 30 percent of our (operating) revenues, so we have to take care of it. We’ve just not done that previously.”

More at The Daily Astorian


Port of Los Angeles breaks all-time cargo volume record in 2017

Excerpts from a Port of Los Angeles news release:

The Port of Los Angeles moved more cargo in 2017 than in any time in the Port’s 110-year history, racking up 9,343,192 Twenty-Foot Equivalent Units (TEUs), a 5.5 percent increase over 2016’s record-breaking year. It’s the most cargo moved annually by a Western Hemisphere port.

“2017 was a year beyond expectations but it was not by chance,” said Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Gene Seroka. “Our growth is a direct result of a concerted, multi-year effort by the Port and its many partners to maximize efficiency throughout the supply chain. All the collaborative work by a broad range of global maritime stakeholders has delivered these remarkable results.”

“We are extremely proud of the role our workforce has played in achieving this cargo milestone, and in keeping the San Pedro Bay port complex the number one trade gateway in the U.S.,” said Mark Mendoza, President of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union 13.

December imports decreased 2.2 percent to 385,492 TEUs. Exports decreased 7.3 percent to 152,865 TEUs. Along with a 1.5 percent rise in empty containers, overall December containers were 779,210 TEUs, an overall decrease of 2.2 percent compared to the previous year.

Read the full news release here


Port of Oakland: 2017 busiest year in 90-year history

The Port of Oakland reported that 2017 was the busiest year in its 90-year history. The Port said it handled the equivalent of 2.42 million 20-foot containers last year. That broke the previous record of 2.39 million containers set in 2014.

The Port said it broke two more records in 2017 with 919,523 loaded import containers and 1.85 million combined imports and exports. The Port said import growth drove its record performance. It reported that imports increased 4 percent in 2017 over 2016 totals. December imports were up 6.4 percent over the same month in 2016.

The Port attributed the import rally to a strong U.S. economy and increasing consumer demand for retail products.

More at the American Journal of Transportation


'Everyone Loved Him': Family mourns Longshoreman killed in forklift accident

A forklift operator killed on the job earlier this month had decades of experience and was safety-minded when it came to his work, according to his family.

Phillip Vargas, 54, was killed on Jan. 3 in an industrial accident at the 10th Street Terminal in Barrio Logan. According to the San Diego County Medical Examiner, Vargas was operating a forklift when he struck a cement pillar and fell out of the forklift. The forklift continued to move, running over Vargas. He died at the scene.

Vargas’ family says he was a third-generation longshoreman who worked on the waterfront since the age of 16.

“It was heartbreaking, unbelievable, the most incredible pain you could ever feel in your life. It’s still not real, it’s so raw,” said Kristina Garcia, Vargas’ daughter.

Read the full article at NBC San Diego


Study finds that Port’s Terminal 6 will need to be multi-use to be viable

Excerpts from the Portland Business Journal:

Despite news in November that limited container service would be returning to Terminal 6 at the Port of Portland this year, revenue from other terminal activities will be required to support that service and make it viable.

So says a study from a consultant hired by the port to size up the terminal and the container service there.

“This analysis reinforced that there is no silver bullet for container service,” said Curtis Robinhold, the port’s executive director, in a release about the study. “With the strong backing of shippers, labor and businesses, I’m hopeful that we can continue to offer container service options for shippers at T-6, while ensuring long-term financial stability. We heard strong support from our partners in the shipping community that they are willing do to what it takes to help support container service at the terminal.”

According to the study, which was presented to the Port of Portland Commission today, T-6 will need to be a multi-use terminal that supports container service with revenues from other terminal activities. Two new shipping opportunities have been made available recently at the terminal, including a rail shuttle from T-6 to move containers to and from Puget Sound and Swire Shipping, which now calls on T-6 on a monthly basis with general cargo service to New Zealand, Australia and Asia.

Read the rest at the Business Journal


Revived TPP threatens U.S. wheat sales

Western Producer

The United States is likely to lose lucrative market share of wheat in Japan, the U.S. Department of Agriculture is warning the American agriculture industry.

The reason: other nations’ embrace of free trade deals.

“The current market preference for (Canadian spring wheat) over (American spring wheat) may be compounded in the coming years by the reduction in the Japanese government markup for 1CW if the (revived Trans Pacific Partnership) is effectuated,” said the report from the USDA’s Foreign Agriculture Service, titled Competitive Field Tilts Against US Wheat in Japan.

The report also suggests Australia’s share of the wheat market will increase if TPP is approved. In 2016, Japan imported US$1.4 billion worth of wheat, with 45 percent coming from the U.S., USDA said in the report.

Western Producer


Utah coal producer fighting to reverse Oakland’s ban on exporting coal

From the Salt Lake Tribune:

Initial arguments start Wednesday in a federal lawsuit backed by Bowie Resource Partners to reverse Oakland’s coal ban — and potentially open new markets for Utah mines.

Under agreements with the city, which owns the 35-acre site known as West Gateway, Phil Tagami is developing a deep-water bulk-freight loading station on a decommissioned military base at the foot of the Bay Bridge. But those plans jackknifed in 2016 after word got out that four coal-producing Utah counties had pledged $53 million toward the project, called Oakland Bulk and Oversized Terminal, or OBOT, in exchange for guaranteed export capacity.

News of that Utah connection ignited a political firestorm that led to Oakland City Council’s vote to prohibit coal; Tagami responded with a federal suit that heads to trial this month in a San Francisco courtroom. The suit alleges Tagami’s firm holds a “vested right” to process any legal commodity it chooses at the terminal.

And according to court filings, the firm that would operate the Oakland export station is a wholly owned subsidiary of Bowie Resource Partners, which is bankrolling Tagami’s suit to the tune of at least $1.7 million.

More at the Salt Lake Tribune


LA sues three major port trucking companies for ‘disgraceful exploitation’ of workers

From WKYC:

The city of Los Angeles filed three lawsuits against some of the busiest port trucking companies in the country Monday, demanding they stop systematically exploiting their workers in the wake of reports by the USA TODAY Network.

“This abuse, this disgraceful exploitation has to stop,” City Attorney Mike Feuer said at a news conference Monday, citing the Network’s “scathing” coverage of the industry.

Feuer alleged CMI Transportation, K&R Transportation and California Cartage Transportation Express represent industry leaders that knowingly violate state labor laws with “devastating practices” meant to increase executives’ bottom lines while driving their workers into debt.

To avoid the cost, many companies pushed their independent drivers into lease-to-own contracts that they didn’t understand and could not afford.

When drivers got sick or fell behind on payments, trucking companies fired them, seizing their trucks and tens of thousands of dollars they had paid toward buying them.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont is one of several high-profile lawmakers, including Democratic Sens. Sherrod Brown, of Ohio, Dianne Feinstein and Kamala Harris, of California, and Elizabeth Warren, of Massachusetts, who have launched public pressure campaigns to reform the industry.

Read the rest at WKYC


BNSF offers new rail service at Port of Portland

From Progressive Rail Roading:

BNSF Railway Co. and the Port of Portland have begun offering a new service at Terminal 6 that enables shippers to move their products on a rail shuttle to the Puget Sound ports.

The new partnership will move containers between Portland and Seattle/Tacoma, where goods can be loaded onto ocean carriers. The rail service will operate five days a week.

The announcement follows news that Swire Shipping will begin a monthly container call at Terminal 6 this month, offering regional shippers a new opportunity to move their goods overseas, port officials said in a press release.

“The rail service will complement the monthly container ship call by giving our local shippers another path to market,” said Port of Portland Executive Director Curtis Robinhold. “We hope to continue building on this momentum and interest at Terminal 6.”

Progressive Rail Roading


East Coast ports slowed by ‘Bomb cyclone’

From ‘Arctic Conditions Shackle North American Shipping’ in Port Technology:

Extreme cold conditions and a snap “bomb hurricane” snow storm have slowed the shipping supply chain across North America this week.

Winter storm Grayson—classified as a “bomb cyclone” — slammed the east coast on Thursday 4 January, engulfing many Mid-Atlantic and New England states in whiteout conditions.

It reached as far as southern states such as South Carolina and Georgia.

Port of New York and New Jersey announced they had been forced to close at 10:30 am on Thursday January 4 due to the extreme winter storm conditions affecting the states.

New York and New Jersey have experienced sub zero temperatures since Christmas, with temperatures dropping to -16 degrees celsius in New York.

More at port Technology


Port of SF may need to subsidize historic Pier 70 repair to seek new operators

From The San Francisco Examiner:

The Port of San Francisco may use its own funding to revitalize the aging shipyard in order to entice potential operators, Port Executive Director Elaine Forbes told the San Francisco Examiner on Thursday.

Last year, two former operators of the shipyard, Puglia Engineering, Inc. and BAE Systems, ceased operating the yards and became embroiled in a legal tussle centering on Pier 70’s dilapidated state — and who was responsible for it.

Though previously the Port hoped a new operator would revitalize the yard if rent was made free, Forbes said the need for further funding was revealed in talks with the only shipyard bidder and potential future operator, Vigor Industrial, LLC, a self-described “ship repair powerhouse” with operations in Alaska, Oregon and Washington.

Those talks were warm, Forbes said, but “in conversations with them, we felt it was clear … the Port would need to move forward with some kind of compensation.”

Forbes likened the funding to a “subsidy” in order to bring the shipyard back into operating capacity — and to restore 300 or so union jobs lost when the shipyard shuttered last May.

The shipyard had been in operation under different names since the Gold Rush.

More at The San Francisco Examiner


U.S. trade deficit hits $50.5 billion, biggest since 2012

The U.S. trade deficit rose to $50.5 billion in November, the largest imbalance in nearly six years, as imports and exports both hit records.

The November deficit was 3.2 percent higher than October’s $48.9 billion imbalance, the Commerce Department reported Friday. U.S. exports of goods and services were up 2.3 percent to an all-time high of $200.2 billion. Imports rose an even faster 2.5 percent to a record $250.7 billion.

A rising trade deficit, which reduces economic growth, means that the United States is buying more goods and services from other countries than it is selling them. … U.S. exports of commercial aircraft, telecommunications equipment and American-made autos and auto parts were all up in November. U.S. manufacturers have been helped this year by a rebounding global economy and a weaker dollar which has made American goods more competitive on foreign markets.

More at the Spokesman Review


Longshore worker dies at marine terminal in San Diego

Note: Public information is limited at this time. Our profound condolences to our Union Brother’s family, friends and brothers and sisters on the docks. An Injury to One is an Injury to All.

Excerpts from World Maritime News:

A longshore worker died on January 3 in a forklift accident while working at the Tenth Avenue Marine Terminal in San Diego, California.

The worker was an employee of Stevedoring Services-America in San Diego, according to Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

“On January 3, 2018 Cal/OSHA was notified of a fatality incident at 1790 Water Street involving a worker of Stevedoring Services-America in San Diego. It has been reported that a worker was fatally injured while operating a forklift,” OSHA said in a statement to World Maritime News.

OSHA added that it has six months to issue citations for violations of workplace safety and health regulations.

More at World Maritime News


Death of two grainhandlers highlight Gavilon’s safety and health violations in 13 states

From ‘Owner of Wichita grain elevator where two men died has history of safety violations’ in the Wichita Eagle:

The company that owns a south Wichita grain elevator where two people died Tuesday has faced 24 cases of safety and health violations by federal regulators over the past seven years, including one incident in Ohio where a man was crushed by a grain auger.

Gavilon owns and operates the elevator near 55th South and Hoover Road where two men were killed Tuesday after being trapped under 20 to 25 feet of grain in a bin.

Gavilon is a privately held grain and fertilizer company with 136 grain facilities. [Note: Including majority ownership at Kalama Export Company at the Port of Kalama, WA, and Columbia Export Company at the Port of Portland, OR.]

While Gavilon may have thorough safety policies in place, it has had two dozen OSHA enforcement cases against it connected with safety and health violations at facilities in 13 states.

Between the death and alleged violations in the three Ohio facilities, OSHA proposed fines totaling $465,500, OSHA records said. Through formal and informal settlements and administrative law judgments, Gavilon paid $309,975, according to OSHA records.

More at the Wichita Eagle


Husband, father of two is one of two Kansas men who died in Gavilon grain elevator

Our profound condolences to the family, friends and co-workers of the two workers who were killed on the job yesterday.

Excerpts from the Wichita Eagle:

Marcus Tice was one of two men who were killed in a grain elevator at a Gavilon Grain facility in Wichita, a family member has confirmed.

The two men were buried under 20 to 25 feet of grain.

Tice leaves behind his wife, Shelly, and two stepdaughters.

The fatal incident was reported just before 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday, and the bodies were recovered about three hours later from the lower-middle of a 120- to 140-foot-tall concrete grain elevator at Gavilon Grain’s facility in Wichita.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration is investigating. OSHA warns that moving grain acts like quicksand and can engulf a person in 22 seconds. Because of the danger, OSHA requires that workers who enter a grain bin wear a body harness with a lifeline.

The identity of the other man who died in the Jan. 2 Gavilon Grain incident has not yet been released.

More at the Wichita Eagle