February 18, 2015
How Many Work Days Are In A Standard Work Week?
This is a trick question obviously. In Oakland, the latest tit-for-tat we are seeing this week is the ILWU deciding to hold their monthly work stoppage meeting during regular weekday working hours this Thursday rather than during night hours (standard practice). This is obviously retaliation for the PMA not employing ILWU labor over the President’s Day weekend to unload containers.
Cory Peters of Gardner Trucking explains the current situation very well in his recent newsletter to us:
ALL TERMINALS CLOSED IN OAKLAND 2/19:
The ILWU in Oakland has just announced they will be holding their monthly Stop Work meeting this Thursday during the day-shift (0700-1630). This means all terminals at the Port of Oakland will be closed Thursday. The IWLU holds Stop Work meetings on the third Thursday of each month in Oakland and on the first Thursday of each month in LA/Long Beach. These meetings typically take place on the second shift (1800-0200). It appears this week’s Stop Work meeting is in direct retaliation for the PMA not allowing them to work yesterday’s holiday and this past weekend. Since Oakland has no night gates, this will be the 3rd full closure of the port in the past 5 working days.
PMA/ILWU CONTRACT NEGOTIATION UPDATE:
There is no update. Both sides continue to play games while directly affecting the livelihoods of your business and ours. Rumors continue to circulate as to what the problems are, but to date actual productivity at the port terminals remains horrendous. As most of you know, it is nearly impossible to ship exports at this time, and those on the import side continue to see delays of numerous weeks, some over a month. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again… even when a contract is agreed upon between the PMA and ILWU, there will still be serious fundamental problems with the industry which will not have been addressed. The situation at the port terminals will be better than today, but far from where they should be.
EMPTY RETURN RESTRICTIONS:
We have seen a massive increase in the number of Steamship Lines not allowing empty containers to be returned. For those not aware, this means import containers have nowhere to go back to once they are unloaded. Not only does this hurt the supply of available empties for exports, the Steamship Lines are still charging container per diem for not returning the empties (even though they will not provide a return location for said empties). This is happening much more in Oakland than LA/Long Beach. As of today, the following Steamship Lines are not receiving empty containers, or are putting restrictions on the returns which make them nearly impossible to return (i.e. dual transactions only):
|Mitsui OSK Lines||Oakland|
Effective immediately, we will be adding stop-off and storage charges on all empties which cannot be returned. These will be added to our import drayage invoices. We apologize for having to do this, but unfortunately we cannot continue to store the Steamship Line equipment for free. Ideally, we could charge the Steamship Lines for this, but because of the way the Interchange Agreements are written, there is currently no recourse for this. Stop-off charges will be $100/container, storage charges will be $25/night. Per Diem charges levied by the Steamship Lines will be passed through as we currently do.
You’ve probably read about chassis shortages in the recent press releases regarding the port situation. The empty restrictions listed above, as well as the vessel delays not allowing export loads to be returned are tying up thousands of chassis along the West Coast. Sure, there are other issues with the current chassis model, but the majority of the chassis shortages today are a direct result of the terminals not accepting containers. If you keep thousands of containers and chassis out of the terminals, there are not enough chassis to pick up more containers at the terminals.
I couldn’t have written it any better. We heard over the weekend that President Obama has finally sent the Secretary of Labor, Tom Perez, to intervene, but at this point, I don’t see what good the White House can do. They sent a Federal mediator at the beginning of the year. Six weeks later, the ports are even in worse shape.
The Wall Street Journal also wrote a piece this morning talking about the damage that this port crisis is having on the economy. I am sure that each and everyone importer and exporter is experiencing the pain firsthand.
I keep wishing for some positive news.