Friday, February 6, 2015

Portland Terminal Says Productivity Hits New Low

By Mark Edward Nero

ICTSI Oregon, which operates Terminal 6, the only container terminal at the Port of Portland, says productivity at the facility has fallen “well below acceptable historical levels” because of labor strife.

“The ILWU has escalated its efforts against ICTSI Oregon, Inc. as of late, far beyond what other West Coast ports are experiencing,” ICTSI said in a prepared statement, saying the work slowdowns date back to June 2012.

In May 2012, ILWU labor was producing about 24.8 moves per hour, according to the terminal operator. However, in the last quarter of 2014, ILWU labor was producing only about 13.2 moves per hour – a roughly 47 percent reduction.

“This level of production is far below industry as well as Terminal 6 standards,” the company said.
The terminal operator is accusing the union of “deliberate and continuous work delays” since a jurisdiction battle between the ILWU, terminal operator and another union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, began to boil over in June 2012. The two unions were fighting over disputed jobs involving the plugging/unplugging and monitoring of refrigerated containers at Terminal 6.

The dispute has led to multiple container ships bypassing the port over the past two-and-an-half years in order to avoid the situation.

In December 2013, Oregon Gov. John Kitzhaber announced that the two-year dispute had been resolved and that the work was awarded to the ILWU, but the bad blood has continued.

In May 2014, a National Labor Relations judge ruled that the ILWU engaged in work slowdowns between September 2012 and June 2013 as part of the dispute – something the union denies.

And in the fourth quarter of 2014, numerous ports along the West Coast reported container traffic backlogs – something the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents terminal operators, attributes in part to labor slowdowns brought on by stalled contract negotiations.