Strike

West Coast Port Update: How Many Work Days Are In A Standard Work Week?

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):

Steamship Line Port
China Shipping Oakland
Cosco Oakland
Hanjin Oakland
Hapag Lloyd LALB
Mitsui OSK Lines Oakland
NYK LALB
OOCL LALB
Yang Ming 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.

CHASSIS SHORTAGE:
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.
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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.

-Jimmy Ting
Great World
jimmyting@gwlcorp.com
t: 650-873-9050 x1019

West Coast Ports to Temporarily Suspend Weekend Vessel Operations

February 6, 2015

After the PMA’s announcement earlier this week that West Coast ports are on the verge of an involuntary port shutdown, we maybe seeing the process slowly playing itself out. The PMA announced today that terminals would not be hiring labor this weekend for vessel loading and unloading. Terminals had already a few weeks ago discontinued night operations for vessel loading and unloading. For the terminal operators, it didn’t make sense for them to be employing labor to remove containers into already congested terminals. This announcement will only further delay cargo arriving at West Coast ports. Note that labor will still be used for basic yard, rail and gate operations.

Another indication of how close we are to a complete terminal shutdown is the fact that numerous terminals are not allowing return of empty containers. In such circumstances, will the carrier charge for detention fees? Who will pay for the chassis rental fees for each day the container sits outside the terminal with a chassis? Won’t this only exacerbate the chassis shortage issue? How LONG will terminals delay the receiving of empty containers?
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Carriers beginning to declare Force Majeure?
Maersk made a decision this week to drop all Oakland bound containers on the DS National v.503 in Los Angeles/Long Beach. While other carriers have made similar decisions a number of times over the past month, the difference this time is that Maersk is terminating the shipments in Los Angeles/Long Beach and will not be responsible for moving the containers up to Oakland. With previous instances this past month, carriers have decided to rail the Oakland containers from Los Angeles/Long Beach. However by terminating the containers in Los Angeles/Long Beach, Maersk is in effect declaring Force Majeure. Maersk has made a similar decision with Oakland bound containers on the Gudrun Maersk, which has not yet arrived in Long Beach.

Importers with containers on these two vessels will be forced to arrange their own transportation of the containers up to Oakland. What makes this current circumstance so troublesome is the following:

  • Maersk is requiring that the empty containers be returned to the terminal from which it was picked up.
  • However the terminal is incredibly congested and from what we have heard is unable to receive a return empty container.

Importers are therefore facing a no win situation. They can pick up a container, but face possible detention charges and chassis rental charges. Or they can leave a container inside a terminal and face demurrage charges. All of the above is assuming that a trucker can even be located who is able to pick up the container.

Assuming other carriers begin following Maersk’s decision above, we can only expect to see even more container congestion in Los Angeles/Long Beach.

-Jimmy Ting
Great World
jimmyting@gwlcorp.com
t: 650-873-9050 x1019

PMA Provides Clarity on a Possible Port Shutdown

PMA Provides Clarity on a Possible Port Shutdown

Wednesday, February 2, 2015

As mentioned yesterday, rumors are flying around that West Coast ports will begin shutting down gradually this week (either via lockout or strike). This afternoon, James McKenna, President and CEO of the Pacific Maritime Association, the organization negotiating on behalf of the steamship lines and terminal operators, sent out a public video message. The message spells out the following:

  1. The impact of slowdowns at the terminals the past three months has reach critical levels.
  2. The offer that the PMA has presented on the table for the ILWU is more than fair. This is the first time that details of the offer have been made public. Detailed information regarding negotiations have been heretofore subject to a news blackout.
  3. A line is being drawn in the sand. McKenna seemed to imply that there is impending gridlock and that if the ILWU doesn’t act to approve the latest offer on the table, there is nowhere left to go other than a work stoppage.

The ILWU has not yet responded to McKenna’s public statement. However what we are seeing here is a tension ratcheting up, not down.

I will continue to provide updates as we receive them.

-Jimmy Ting
Great World
t: 650-873-9050 x1019
jimmyting@great-world.com

Possible West Coast Port Shutdown

It appears just as we were seeing signs of hope last week, the West Coast ports may be heading full steam towards the shutdown that we have all been fearing. CBFANC (Customs Brokers & Forwarders Association) has issued the following update from Pacific Coast Council’s Peter Friedman:

“I have refrained from spreading all the rumors, but this one has firm basis and warrants preparation:  it appears that there will be a gradual lockout this week, expanding over the weekend, and fully implemented next week. It is possible the ILWU will take some action to be the “first” to act, but the result will be the same – shut-down of the west coast.”

As of Tuesday afternoon, February 3rd, Great World has NOT yet seen any signs of a gradual lockout on the West Coast. In fact, we saw some small improvements at various terminals this past week. We are going to be vigilant and report any signs of a real lockout or shutdown.

Let’s keep our fingers crossed and hope that we are not staring at a shutdown.

-Jimmy Ting
GWL Corp.
tel: 650-873-9050 x1019
email: jimmyting@gwlcorp.com

Truck Protest at the Port of Oakland Today (Monday, December 8, 2014)

Conditions at the West Coast port terminals have seriously deteriorated in past weeks. I have been writing about how horrible conditions have become awful in the past month. Apparently, drivers at the port of Oakland have had enough. We received a message last Friday from one local trucking company that drivers at the Oakland port were intending to protest at the port terminals today, Monday, December 8th. We have confirmed this morning that many trucking companies are indeed facing a protest. Here is a message from one our local drayers:

Today , drivers have not shown up for work  in support of the truckers work stoppage  against the unreasonable delays at the terminals and to highlight their complaints against Union workers. We have learned that numerous drivers, including our own independent contractors, have agreed not to work , either to join their support to the protest, or out of fear for their safety.. Moreover, several transportation companies will not be sending their drivers to the terminals on the day of the protest.

This protest at the port of Oakland is unfortunate in timing, but should not come as a surprise. We have seen the West Coast terminal situation become absolutely unbearable as truckers are not able to consistently get into the terminals to pick up and return containers.

I would like to also share a snapshot of messages we have received this past week from what we consider to be some of our long standing most trusted trucking partners along the U.S. West Coast.

  • “There most likely will be demurrage charges for this container. We will only accept if you guys guarantee demurrage for however many days we need to pull container. Also, once your container becomes available, we won’t be able to schedule until the LFD. We have too many demurraged containers at the moment. Please confirm. Thanks”
  • ​”Well received and even we got the order days ahead before the arrival, there’s no sufficient time to pull out containers from terminals. Due to terminals congestion, we don’t guarantee pickup of containers on or before the LFD​​. Please provide allowance for additional chassis usage because we’re havi​​ng problems on the return too.  Thank you.”
  • “Notes:  Due to the current situation at Oakland Port, we will not be ​responsible for DEMURRAGE CHARGES if container​ ​is not p/u before the last free date​. In order to process the order and assured that we received the document we​ ​will acknowledge receipt of your order by providing a REFERENCE#. If we do​ ​not reply, please contact us immediately”​

The reality is that there is no guarantee these days that a driver going into a terminal will be able to get out of a terminal in any reliable time frame, if at all. In the past, trucking companies were able to schedule drivers to arrange pickups and deliveries ahead of time with a basic amount of certainty. However under current conditions, trucking companies are having to turn away pick up and delivery requests because they just cannot be sure their drivers will be available to successfully get into a terminal. If the trucker does accept the delivery order, they are requesting that we provide a flexible time frame for actually retrieving the container. This means that there WILL be a possibility that a container may not be picked up until AFTER the last free day. This means there may be BOTH demurrage charges to be paid to the terminal AND waiting time charges to be paid to the trucker. In the case of the port of Seattle and Tacoma, we ask that importers be aware that trucking companies are having extreme difficulty even returning empty containers. This can lead to storage and detention charges on empty containers.

Many of our long time trucking partners have turned away a large amount of business in recent months. This turning away of business has only accelerated in recent weeks with various truckers already stating they are booked through much of the month of December.

I have been pleading with our customers to be patient and flexible in this time. If we are assisting you with your trucking moves, this means that we ask that you be understanding if we indicate that we are looking for drivers that can assist with a delivery. You may find that we are using alternative trucking companies outside of normal ones you are used to working with. We ask that you be understanding if we indicate that there may be demurrage and/or special waiting time/congestion charges associated with a pickup.

Great World is first and foremost a service company that has the best interests of our customers at heart. We value our long term partnership with our customers and believe strongly in building mutually beneficial relationships. This is an extremely trying time. We ask that you work with us as well as the trucking community to get through it.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me.

-Jimmy Ting
Great World
t: 650-873-9050 x1019
jimmyting@gwlcorp.com

More Labor Disruption from the Port of Oakland Truckers Association: The Saga Continued

The Port of Oakland Truckers Association (POTA) voted on late last Friday to stop work at the port of Oakland this Wednesday, November 27th. While truckers are still dissatisfied with the turn time at various terminals at the port of Oakland (specifically with SSA), their current complaint is mainly focused on the January 1st deadline set in place by the California Air Resources Board (CARB) for the trucks to be retrofitted to meet new emission standards. POTA is asking the port of Oakland to charge a $50 per container emissions fee to help pay for the cost and maintenance of CARB compliant trucks.

With CARB and the port of Oakland not signaling any willingness to accept the request, POTA has has indicated they will demonstrate. The city of Oakland has indicated they will have police officers on site to make sure the roads leading to the terminals are open. However there is no guarantee that they will be successful. The other wildcard in the process are the ILWU longshoremen. If the longshoremen do decide not to cross the picket lines, it isn’t going to matter whether the Oakland police are able to keep the roads open.

Importers should be prepared for more possible delays.

More Trouble at the Port of Oakland: Truckers Protesting

Having spent the past month dealing with extremely heavy congestion at the port of Oakland due to terminal consolidation, longshoremen issues, and an increase in ISF related examinations, we were hoping to see a gradual return to normalcy in the coming weeks. While we were still seeing delays and uneven handling of containers at the terminals, we were starting to see some containers move out of the terminals in a more normal manner last week.

As of early this morning, various groups of truck drivers have been protesting at terminals in Oakland. SSA terminal and Ports of America have already shut down for the day due to the protests. One trucking company has advised us that there is a protest at one of the yards where drivers store their trucks overnight. This particular group of protesters is preventing drivers from getting to their trucks.

We’re still trying to see whether other terminals will also shut down. We will provide additional updates as we receive them.

-Jimmy Ting

jimmyting@great-world.com

t: 650-873-9050 x1019

Hong Kong Terminal Strike Ends

The Hong Kong dock worker strike finally ended yesterday with workers agreeing to a pay increase after a month long labor dispute. While there certainly were some vessel delays at the early stages of the strike, we hadn’t noticed any large impact on international shipping between Hong Kong and the United States in recent weeks. In fact, terminal operators were indicating that operations were running at roughly 90% normal efficiency in the previous weeks.

-Jimmy Ting

jimmyting@great-world.com

tel# 650-873-9050 x1019

Hong Kong Terminal Strike Update, April 15, 2013

As we come to the 18th day of the the strike at HIT terminals in Hong Kong, we see disputing claims from both sides. HIT is stating a claim that it is running at 86% of its handling capacity, 90% during peak periods this past Saturday. Trade union representatives denied this claim, indicating that the terminal is still hampered by the strike, only handling 15 containers an hour instead of the standard 25 containers an hour before the strike.

Both sides are set to meet again on Tuesday to try to bring a resolution to this dispute. Shipments are still moving out of Hong Kong. However carriers have adjusted their schedules to account for delays in Hong Kong.

-Jimmy Ting

jimmyting@great-world.com

Impact of Terminal Strike in Hong Kong on the U.S. Import & Export Community

As many U.S. importers and exporters are aware, laborers at Hongkong International Terminal (HIT) have been on strike for the past twelve days.  HIT actually runs five of the eleven terminals in Hong Kong. The result of the strike has been a severe slowdown in operations at the terminals. Vessels are being delays roughly three to four days in Hong Kong as it is taking longer for containers to be loaded and unloaded.

One difference between the terminal strike in Hong Kong and past terminal strikes in the United States is that the HIT terminals actually have not completely shut down. They are still operating, albeit at a reduced capacity. Those familiar with longshoremen related strikes in the United States are used to complete terminal shut downs when terminal workers go on strike. Containers continue to be loaded and unloaded from the vessel, just at a slower pace. A number of carriers are diverting vessels to other nearby ports in China.

Importers with shipments from Hong Kong should double-check on the shipping schedules and prepare for a couple of days delay. They may also want to consider shipping directly from a nearby China port (Yantian/Huangpu) to avoid delays in Hong Kong.

Exporters with shipments to Hong Kong should be prepared for possible delays when the vessel arrives.

-Jimmy Ting

jimmyting@great-world.com