Friday, February 17, 2012

Seattle Truckers End Walkout

After two weeks off the job, an estimated 300 to 400 drayage truck drivers who normally work hauling loads to and from the Port of Seattle have ended a walkout they conducted to bring attention to their numerous workplace grievances.

“In only two weeks, port truck drivers have moved truck safety and working condition issues to the forefront,” said David West, executive director of the Puget Sound Sage coalition, one of the main organizers of the protest.

The truckers began picketing the port Jan. 31 in protest of pay and job safety issues. Among their grievances were being forced to carry overweight and unsafe loads of cargo, and being classified as independent owner-operators under the law, which denies them the eligibility to form a union.

The drivers, who have formed an organization called the Seattle Port Truckers Association, are also backed by the Teamsters union, which is trying to organize the drivers and help them fight for the right to collectively bargain.

During the walkout, drivers and supporters not only picketed the port, but also participated in various meetings with port staff, trucking and railroad company representatives and area elected officials in order to try finding common ground.
As a result, the drivers managed to win some concessions from some employers, including a pay per load raise to $44 from $40 a trip, according to Paul Marvy, a labor-union researcher advising the truckers.

Some trucking companies have also agreed to compensate drivers who wind up waiting in line over an hour to pick up or drop off a load, Marvy told the Seattle Times, and that companies would also pay for some trips drivers make when not carrying a load.

Normally, as many as 1,400 trucks haul goods to and from the port.

The walkout, which was essentially a strike, came as the Washington state Legislature is considering two bills that would address some of the drivers’ issues. One, House Bill 2395 would reclassify drayage truckers as employees, instead of the current independent contractor designation. HB 2527 would make shipping companies responsible for any defects in chassis and containers, rather than truckers.

Both bills are still at the committee level, however, and it could take weeks, if not months for them to come to a vote by the full House and Senate.

A day after the end of the walkout, the port reported that normalcy had returned.
“Container cargo at the Port of Seattle is moving through terminals without any delays and normal operations are reported at the many companies that handle the container cargo in and around the harbor,” the port said in a Feb. 15 statement provided to the media.

Port of LA Sets Container Volume Record

The Port of Los Angeles started 2012 off in a good way last month, as it set a record in total container volume.

The number of 20-foot equivalent containers that moved through the POLA increased 5.78 percent compared to January 2011, according to port data. The 698,715 TEUs represents the highest number of combined imports, exports and empties for January in the port’s history.

Loaded inbound TEUs jumped 5.25 percent compared to January 2011, from 338,606 to 356,394. Also, the number of loaded outbound containers was up 5.9 percent, to 168,427 from 159,050. The number of total loaded containers, imports and exports, which traveled through the port last month was up by a total of 5.46 percent compared with the same month last year, rising from 497,657 to 524,821.

Additionally, the total number of empty containers also rose, reaching 173,893, a 6.77 percent increase over the 162,860 that the port moved during the same month last year.

The numbers marked the best January in the port’s history with respect to exports and the total number of loaded imports and exports combined, 624,821 TEUs.
The port is attributing some of the increase in January volumes to the increased movement of cargo prior to the Jan. 23 Chinese New Year, which results in a one- to two-week holiday closure of many facilities in China.

For its fiscal year, which began July 1, the total volume is up 0.9 percent so far compared with the year prior, partially due to a new tenant, California United Terminals, which came over from the adjoining Port of Long Beach in late 2010.

The Port LA’ numbers are a marked contrast to those at the rival Long Beach, which suffered a nearly four percent decrease in total TEU volume last month compared with January 2011, partially due to the loss of OOCL.

TEU Decline Continues at Port of Long Beach

The number of empty containers that moved through the Port of Long Beach last month rose five percent compared with the same month in 2011, but the growth wasn’t enough to halt a downward trend in total container volume at the port.

The number of empties shipped through the port jumped from 104,969 last January to 110,216 this January, according to data posted this week on the port’s website, but the number of loaded imports and loaded exports both dropped by substantial margins during the same time period.

The number of loaded inbound containers fell about 5.5 percent, from 242,445 last year to 229,125 last month. Also, the amount of loaded outbound containers was down 8.2 percent, to 117,083 last month from 127,546 in January 2011.

The overall number of 20-foot equivalent units moved dropped 3.9 percent during the time period, to 456,424 from 474,960.

For its fiscal year, which began Oct. 1, the POLB’s total volume is down 11.8 percent compared with the year prior.

The port attributes much of the decline to its loss of California United Terminals, which vacated one of the POLB’s seven container terminals in late 2010. CUT, which had accounted for about a tenth of the port’s overall container traffic, now leases about 100 acres of the 512-acre APM Terminals facility at the Port of Los Angeles.

CUT’s former terminal is being redeveloped as part of the port’s Middle Harbor project, a nine-year, $1.2 billion undertaking in which two aging terminals will be combined and modernized.

The port, which began work on the project in the spring of 2011, has signed Orient Overseas Container Line to a 40-year, $4.6 billion lease on the facility.

Port of Oakland Traffic Volume Rises

California’s third-busiest seaport, the Port of Oakland saw a sharp rise in total traffic volume last month compared with the same period in 2011, according to newly released data.

The number of full incoming and outgoing 20-foot equivalent units was up during the month, as was the number of empty imported containers.

The largest increase was in the number of full imports, which rose 12.8 percent last month compared with the same month in 2011, to 70,719 containers. Also seeing a double-digit percentage increase was the number of empty containers. The 23,386 TEUs that the port moved last month was a 12.3 percent leap over the same period last year.

The number of full exports rose to 81,899 during the month, a jump of about seven percent over January 2011.

The lone drop was in the number of empty containers exported: the port saw a decrease of about 10 percent compared with the same month last year, to 19,700 TEUS.

Despite that, however, Oakland’s overall container volume still managed to grow 7.5 percent in January 2012, to a grand total of 195,704.

The numbers are a good start to the year for Oakland, which saw an overall increase of just 0.5 percent in container traffic during calendar year 2011.

Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Port of Vancouver USA: A Century of Possibilities

By Port of Vancouver Staff

This year marks the celebration of the first 100 years of progress at the Port of Vancouver. A channel that once seemed deep enough at 20 feet now accommodates the sea’s largest trade vessels, at 43 feet deep. Washington Prunes that crossed the docks bound for Europe’s breakfast tables have been replaced by giant wind turbines en route to power-generating farms across the Northwest. What began as a single-wharfed trading post has become a five-
terminal global port.

The port has also evolved into an economic force in both its community and the region, and a major player on the stage of worldwide trade. Port activities support nearly 17,000 local jobs and generate more than $1.6 billion in economic benefits to the area. As the only port in North America with two 140-metric-ton Liebherr mobile harbor cranes, Vancouver USA offers significant breakbulk and heavylift cargo handling capabilities. As the West Coast port of entry for Subaru America, an average of 60,000 automobiles pass through the port annually, and Vancouver has also become a major center for receiving wind energy components. The port is an industrial hub as well, with 50 tenants, more than 2 million square feet of warehouse space, and more than 800 acres of developed property for industrial and maritime activities.

The port is also a steward of land and water resources, dedicated to environmental restoration, habitat preservation, and sustainable growth.

Many events – both planned and unforeseen – have shaped the evolution of the Port of Vancouver. It’s hard to mark the previous century, however, without highlighting the following milestones.

1846: America Prevails
A line is drawn, placing Vancouver on US soil
A treaty between the US and Great Britain was finalized, and after years of each claiming dominion over the territory, what are now the state of Washington and the city of Vancouver came under American control. The debate had gone back to Lewis and Clark’s exploration of the region in 1805-1806, which bolstered US stakes to the region, versus the establishment of a fort by the Hudson’s Bay Company in 1824, aiding British claims. The city of Vancouver, Washington was subsequently incorporated in 1857.

1912: Port of Vancouver USA Established
Residents choose “the broad highway”
Local residents Judge J.A. Munday and attorney Henry Crass lobbied for Vancouver to establish a real port. A former Confederate cavalryman, Judge Munday warned: “Vancouver must either take that fork of the road that leads to a humble existence or the broad highway that takes her to independent sisterhood and metropolitan proportions.” The vote, in a special election held in April 1912, was 631 to 182 in favor of establishing a port district.

1918: Shipbuilding Aids War Effort
Port leases land to shipbuilder G.M. Standifer Construction Corporation
The United States entered World War I, a move that profoundly affected Vancouver’s waterfront. Ten days after the declaration of war, Congress created the Emergency Fleet Corporation, to take over German ships in US ports, purchase neutral ships, lease private ships, and build new shipyards. By late April, workmen were building on four shipways along the Vancouver waterfront. The US War Shipping Board commissioned 10 wooden vessels to be built. In late May, the yard’s first ship, the Kineo, was christened. Steel ships were also in demand, and 10 steel cargo vessels were ordered by the US government, underscoring the port’s status as a national shipbuilding hub.

1925: “Terminal 1” Acquired
Port accepts ownership of municipal dock
On April 25, 1925, port commissioners unanimously accepted ownership of the City of Vancouver’s municipal dock, located at what is today Terminal 1. The commission also authorized expansion of the municipal dock that had been constructed and equipped by the city. The port officially took control and began operation of the dock on December 1, 1926.

1934: Grain Exporting Begins
Railway proposes grain facility at the port
The port approved leasing property to the Spokane, Portland & Seattle Railway for a grain facility. Improvements necessary for the proposed Pacific Continental Grain Company grain elevator included construction of a rail track from 16th Street, and dredging river approaches to the new elevator site. Today, more than 16 percent of US wheat is exported through the port’s grain facility, now operated by the United Grain Corporation.

1935: Great Western Malting Calls Vancouver Home
Port leases property as Prohibition ends
Arnold Blitz established a new malt plant at the port, called Great Western Malting Company. Blitz had purchased the Portland Brewing Company in 1909 and produced cereal beverages when alcohol was outlawed. He bought the Henry Weinhard Company in 1928, changing his firm’s name to Blitz-Weinhard. The company made beer when Prohibition was repealed in 1933, and Blitz was president. Still in operation at the port after more than 75 years, Great Western Malting is the oldest malting company in the western United States and one of the port’s longest-standing tenants.

1942: War Brings Shipyards to Life Again
Kaiser Shipbuilding Company puts thousands to work
Less than six weeks after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and US entry into World War II in 1941, work began on a Vancouver shipyard operated by Henry J. Kaiser’s Oregon Shipbuilding Corporation. From across the country, shipyard workers made their way west to Vancouver. At its peak, the Kaiser yards would employ 38,000 workers.

Bess (Elizabeth) Gedney Christensen, a Kaiser office employee who had worked previously at the Clark County Sun, recalled: “The glory of the Kaiser yard at Vancouver was the building of 50 escort carriers, the baby flattops, that distinguished themselves beyond expectations in the Pacific. We had seven-day workweeks – no days off, no vacations, just work. At one point, when the number of people quitting their jobs got dangerously high, I remember Edgar Kaiser pleading with the workers at a giant mass meeting to stay, shouting, ‘We need you – God, how we need you.’ And I remember the grief that swept through the yard when we got the news of our first carrier lost in action, the Liscome Bay.”

1959: Harbor Crane Expands Port Capabilities
Port purchases first harbor “whirly” crane
Workers installed a $225,000 “whirly” crane in the summer of 1959, on a 37-foot-wide track running the length of Terminal 2’s downriver side. Called a “whirly” crane because it was able to rotate a full 360 degrees, the long-awaited crane could lift loads up to 50 tons and greatly increased the port’s freight-handling capacity.

Today, the port has two of North America’s largest mobile harbor cranes, each capable of lifting 140 metric tons individually, and 210 metric tons together.

1963: Terminal Status Granted
Port receives important distinction
Port of Vancouver USA was granted full terminal status by the Pacific Westbound Conference and the inbound conferences – Japan, Hong Kong, Formosa Straits and the Philippines. This recognized the port’s size and capacity to accommodate major cargoes, and gave Vancouver preferred status for shippers making West Coast stops.

1972: Autos Roll Onto Docks
Automobile imports arrive at the port
A lease was signed with Riviera Motors, the largest Volkswagen importing and wholesaling firm on the West Coast, bringing the auto import business to the port. In the fall of 1972, the first ship arrived carrying Volkswagens, Porsches and Audis from Germany. Today, Subaru America offloads approximately 60,000 automobiles annually at the Port of Vancouver.

1986: Welcome High Tech
Port signs new tenant, high tech giant Panasonic
American Kotobuki Electronics Industries leased warehouse and office space at the port, bringing a large new employer to Southwest Washington. The Vancouver plant, known as Panasonic, was turning out 1 million television/video cassette recorder combinations annually by the decade’s end.

1996: Transportation Route Gets Makeover
New corridor streamlines traffic
Washington Governor Mike Lowry signed a bill funding the Mill Plain Extension project, an effort that had a major impact on the port area. Upon completion in 2000, the project relieved major truck congestion on Fourth Plain Boulevard, and significantly improved freight movement between the port and Interstate 5. Building on the improvement to Mill Plain, the port also completed construction of a new, more efficient entrance to Terminal 2, further improving the facility to handle a wide variety of imports and exports.

2001: Wind Energy Blows into Town
Windmills from Norway arrive at the port
In June 2001 a vessel dispatched by Star Shipping of Bergen, Norway arrived at the port with a unique cargo: 40 windmills. One of the port’s first shipments of wind energy components, the windmills had been built in Denmark and were destined for a wind farm west of Walla Walla, Washington. Today, the Port of Vancouver is a major point of entry for wind energy projects in the Columbia River region; in 2009, the US Census Bureau declared the Port of Vancouver the nation’s leading port for handling wind energy cargo.

2003: Key Property Resolution
Columbia Gateway development agreement reached
In the fall of 2003, an agreement was reached that settled 12 years of controversy over more than 1,000 acres of port property known as Columbia Gateway. Acquired over three decades and intended for industrial development, Columbia Gateway had been in development limbo due to environmental concerns and lawsuits. Included in the 2003 agreement were the stipulations that more than 542 acres of the parcel will be designated as natural habitat, and 517 acres can be developed for industrial use and jobs creation.

2009: Terminal 5 Dedication
Port purchases former aluminum production site
The port completed the purchase of approximately 218 acres formerly owned by Evergreen Aluminum LLC and Alcoa Aluminum, allowing the development of the port’s newest marine terminal, Terminal 5. Less than a month after closing on the property acquisitions, the port graded and surfaced a 30-acre area and was handling wind energy cargo on the new terminal. Terminal 5 was also selected in 2010 by BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company, as its preferred site for a new potash export facility. With operations slated to begin in 2015, the proposed facility is expected to handle 8 million tons of potash annually at its peak.

2010: Rail Loop Completed
Port finishes Terminal 5 loop of West Vancouver Freight Access project
In June 2010 the port officially completed the Terminal 5 Unit Train Improvement project. Delivery of the loop track, which marked a major milestone of the port’s ongoing West Vancouver Freight Access (WVFA) rail improvement project, added 35,000 feet of new rail capacity to the port’s internal system. Finished ahead of schedule and on budget, the new track allows unit trains to be handled within the port’s internal rail complex. When complete in 2017, the $150 million WVFA project is expected to reduce congestion on the regional rail system by as much as 40 percent.

2012: Centennial Celebration
Port of Vancouver USA turns 100
On April 6, 2012, the port will celebrate its 100th anniversary of becoming a port district. While its history as a maritime hub goes back much further, the port’s official centennial marks its first century as an anchor for the economic well-being of Vancouver, Clark County, and Southwest Washington.

Port of Vancouver USA Executive Director Larry Paulson, who will retire in April 2012 after 15 years with the port, is quick to point out that, while such milestones elicit pride, they must also evoke recognition of the people who helped bring the port so far – and those who stand ready to steer its future. “From the dedicated commissioners and directors who navigated the port starting in 1912, to the leaders who will take it into the future,” he says, “a consistent guiding mission has kept the Port of Vancouver on a course of continued expansion, prosperity and possibility.”

Paulson points to the quality of the staff through the years as key to its success. “We’ve focused on recruiting and keeping outstanding people at every level. Having the right team in place has helped ensure smart decisions, a sound vision, and well-designed plans for realizing that vision.” A good example is the West Vancouver Freight Access Project (WVFA), he says. “With WVFA, we had a chance to expand and dramatically improve our rail access. It’s a huge undertaking, with a long timeline and multiple phases. But everyone could see the benefits, and now we’re starting to reap the rewards. And by ‘we’ I mean many factions: the city, BNSF Railway, the port, and the community in terms of jobs and economic vitality.”

Deputy Executive Director Todd Coleman, the port’s incoming executive director, notes the importance of a consistent mission through the years. “It’s natural to focus on all the things that have changed over 100 years,” he observes. “But one of the most remarkable aspects is what hasn’t changed. We’ve stayed true to our initial core mission of marine and industrial development. Other ports have taken things in different directions, but it’s clear that for us that consistency has been key to our success.”

He also points out that the focus on the “Three Rs” – river, rail and road – which have been so integral to the port’s development mission over the past century have similarly not changed. “Those are still our key foundations. Making sure each of those transportation channels is ready to meet demands is crucial to our future.”

Paulson, Coleman and the three current port commissioners are also quick to point out that there has been a subtle shift toward a more proactive, assertive approach and culture throughout the port organization. Creating opportunity, capitalizing on advantages – this sense of staying a step ahead has helped the port attract and keep tenants and growing industries.

Commissioner Brian Wolfe calls it “The bright light of economic development.” He explains, “From top to bottom, the culture of the port reflects this attitude of moving forward and assertiveness. It keeps us pushing the envelope.” Commissioner Nancy Baker is even more direct. “We’ve been willing to take educated risks,” she says. “We make it a point to foresee opportunity, and then invest the right resources to court that opportunity. A good example is our two Liebherr mobile cranes. Being one of the only ports on the West Coast with two of those cranes has helped us become a leader in heavy lift cargo.” All agree that becoming an expert in heavy lift has been crucial to port prosperity, especially during the recent economic downturn.

Commissioner Jerry Oliver expands on Executive Director Paulson’s thoughts on WVFA. “I’ve been a supporter of the West Vancouver Freight Access project since before I was on the commission. I believe it will assure the future vitality of the port,” he says. “All the phases won’t be completed for several more years, but it’s already reducing congestion and improving capacity on the region’s rail system. Besides creating jobs, the rail upgrades will also lower costs for current and future port tenants, making them more competitive in the global marketplace.”

With leaders as notable for their diverse backgrounds and perspectives as for their shared commitment, the Port of Vancouver can look to the next century with confidence – grounded in an extraordinary history, buoyed by globally recognized capabilities and advantages, and eager to meet the next century as “the port of possibility.”

Seattle Trucker Protests Enter Third Week

Hundreds of drayage truck drivers who haul goods to and from the Port of Seattle held a solidarity rally at the port Feb. 13, marking the end of the second week of a walkout that began Jan. 31.

An estimated 300 to 400 truckers and supporters, some carrying signs with messages such as “Justice for Seattle Port Truck Drivers” and “Fairness + Safety for All,” gathered around 9 am for the Monday rally at the Spokane Street Bridge Fishing Area and marched to the SSA Marine facility at Terminal 30.

The protest came on the heels of a Feb. 11 town hall meeting in Seattle’s neighboring city of Tukwila, where drivers aired their grievances and asked local elected officials for support. And the day before that, activists met with port, railroad and trucking company management officials, including Port of Seattle CEO Tay Yoshitani, to go over their issues.

Hundreds of truckers began picketing the port Jan. 31 in protest of pay and job safety issues. Among their grievances are, they say, being forced to carry overweight and unsafe loads of cargo, and being classified as independent owner-operators under the law, which denies them the eligibility to form a union.

The drivers have the support of the Teamsters union, which is trying to organize the drivers and help them fight for the right to collectively bargain.

Two bills pending in the state Legislature would address some of the drivers’ issues: House Bill 2395 would reclassify drayage truckers as employees, instead of the current independent contractor designation. And HB 2527 would make shipping companies responsible for any defects in chassis and containers, rather than truckers.

Both bills are still at the committee level, however, and it could take weeks, if not months for them to come to a vote by the full House and Senate.

In the meantime, hundreds of truckers continue to stay off the job, but how large of a dent their departure from the ranks of the working has made on the port’s overall operations. According to port spokesman Peter McGraw, things have sporadically slowed down, but the walkout hasn’t resulted in any incoming ships or outgoing loads of cargo being turned away.

Normally, about 1,400 trucks move through the port hauling goods. But even though an estimated 300 to 400 off the job to picket, replacement workers hired by trucking companies have managed to make up part of the difference.

Port Metro Vancouver Launches Truck Efficiency Program

Port Metro Vancouver, Canada’s largest, busiest port, says it’s launching a six-month pilot program to review the way it’s accessed by container trucks, in order to improve efficiency and reliability.

The port says its news Container Truck Efficiency Pilot Program, or CTEPP, builds on several initiatives already underway, including a review of how container trucks currently access the port, a new decal program and a terminal operator gate compliance initiative.

The system’s designed to track and communicate routing, operational and congestion information with vehicle operators on a real-time basis. The information is expected to help drivers avoid congestion and reduce terminal wait time, according to the port.

“Port operations must keep pace with improved technologies that will save time, track movements and improve communication,” Peter Xotta, the port’s vice president of planning and operations, said. “Thanks to the volunteers from the local container drayage community, we will be able to determine how this technology will have a meaningful, positive impact on daily business operations on the terminal and for the trucking community.”

The port is inviting 300 volunteers from the local container drayage community that already are listed in its truck licensing system to take part in the pilot program. Participation includes the training, installation and the use of GPS communication devices at no cost to truck owners or operators.

The CTEPP is being launched in anticipation of an expected surge in regional trade over the next decade. Container traffic through Canada’s Pacific Gateway is expected to double over the next 10 to 15 years and nearly triple by 2030.

“With an anticipated increase in container volumes and a looming driver shortage, we need to use every tool available to ensure port intermodal operations are as efficient as they can be,” Louise Yako, President and CEO of BC Trucking Association, which is participating in the project, said. “We’re encouraged to see Port Metro Vancouver working in consultation with the container drayage sector, which is a vital link in the Asia Pacific Gateway.”

Port of Portland Reorganizes Management Structure

The Port of Portland has made organizational changes to its management structure that Executive Bill Wyatt says should improve efficiency and reduce administrative costs.

“My purpose in this reorganization,” Wyatt said, “is to eliminate duplicate organizational structures, take advantage of the obvious synergies from locating like functional responsibilities within single work groups, place a very concentrated emphasis on our customers and business development and, over time, reduce the cost of operating the port while improving our business.”

As part of the changes, which became effective Feb. 9, Sam Ruda, the port’s former director of marine and industrial development now holds the newly created position of chief commercial officer. In his new position, Ruda is responsible for commercial and business development activities at the port’s marine and aviation facilities and its commercial real estate holdings.

Ruda was the director of marine and industrial development for more than nine years and, according to the port, helped improve the general fund business lines both financially and operationally.

Before joining the port, Ruda worked for Beaverton, Oregon-based sportswear company Nike, where he served as director of global logistics. Before that, he had a long career in the global shipping industry in sales and marketing.

Also, port Chief Financial Officer Vince Granato has been named to the new role of chief operating officer. Granato is a 24-year port veteran with experience in nearly all areas of the port, including airfield and terminal operations, properties and real estate and finance.

In his new position, he’s responsible for operations activities at the port’s marine, aviation facilities and business parks.

The port says it has launched a national search for a new chief financial officer, but that Granato will continue serving in that role as well until a replacement’s found.

Obama Announces Maritime Commission Nominations

President Obama announced Feb. 10 that he would nominate Richard A. Lidinsky, Jr. for another term as chair of the Federal Maritime Commissioner and also nominate William P. Doyle for his first term as an FMC commissioner.

Lidinsky was first appointed to the FMC by Pres. Obama in September 2009. Prior to joining the commission, Lidinsky had worked in the maritime trade industry for nearly 40 years, holding a number of positions in both business and government.

From 1986 to 2006, he worked for global maritime company Sea Container Ltd., where he established its Washington DC office, and was its vice president for governmental affairs. From 1975 to 1986, he worked for the Maryland Port Administration as its director of tariffs and national port affairs.

Doyle is chief of staff at the Marine Engineers’ Beneficial Association and since 2008 has also been director of permits, scheduling and compliance for the Alaska Natural Gas Transportation Projects’ Office of the Federal Coordinator.

From 2002 to 2008, Doyle was the deputy general counsel and the director of government and legislative affairs for the MEBA. And prior to joining the MEBA, he was a U.S. Coast Guard Licensed Marine Engineer from 1992 to 2001.

The Federal Maritime Commission is the independent federal agency responsible for regulating the nation's international ocean transportation for the benefit of exporters, importers, and the American consumer.