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Port of Portland container terminal founders, risking economic damage as longshore turmoil spreads

Coast Committeeman Leal Sundet commented on recent issues at ICTSI, the private, Philippines-based terminal operator that took over operations at the Port of Portland two years ago. Excerpts from the Oregonian:

Operations at Portland’s international container terminal, a workhorse of Oregon’s economy, appear increasingly tenuous as a third labor conflict surfaces and big customers waver.

The Port’s terminal operator, ICTSI Oregon Inc., has indicated it might have to wind down operations at Terminal 6. If ICTSI left, Wyatt said Wednesday, the yard might never reopen as a container terminal.

The longshore union broke weeks of silence Wednesday, responding to questions from The Oregonian with a statement blaming ICTSI for mismanagement. Leal Sundet, a coast committeeman for the union, said in the emailed statement that longshore workers are invested in the region’s well being and have toiled for decades to make the Port productive.

“By contrast,” Sundet wrote, “ICTSI’s sole interest in Portland is squeezing profits from our local economy and shipping dollars overseas to its Philippine owners.”

Sundet blamed ICTSI for truck backups on North Marine Drive, which extended Wednesday again for as much as a mile.

ICTSI has at times closed terminal gates and invited journalists to film the resulting line of trucks, he said. The company also gets the Port to hire insufficient security during meal hours, he said, creating backups falsely attributed to longshore slowdowns.

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