Monday, January 19, 2015

L.A. / LONG BEACH PORTS SUSPEND SHIPSIDE OPERATIONS TO CLEAR BACKLOG

PMA says shipside operations suspended Monday in LA/Long Beach

Workers will try to clear backlog from terminals.

The Pacific Maritime Association said it is suspending dayside vessel loading and unloading operations at the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach on Monday "to continue to focus efforts on clearing containers backed up at terminals experiencing severe capacity issues on congested yards due to the ILWU’s ongoing slowdowns. Dayside vessel operations will resume on Tuesday."
Last Tuesday terminals in the two Southern California ports suspended night-side vessel loading and unloading at the twin ports. The terminals had already reduced the number of ILWU gangs working ships from three to one in an effort to slow the flow of containers into already congested container terminals.
PMA spokesman Wade Gates said "Since Nov. 3, in a coordinated and unilateral action to apply pressure to labor negotiations, Local 13 (the International Longshore and Warehouse Union local in the two ports) has reduced by two-thirds the dispatch of skilled workers qualified to drive yard cranes, aggravating congestion and leading to near gridlock conditions at many terminals. Yard cranes are essential in moving containers that have already been unloaded from ships onto trucks and trains for loading and transport to their final destinations."
Gates said "PMA hopes Monday’s action will continue to help chip away at the backlog of stranded containers posed by 10 weeks of ILWU slowdowns, speed cargo available for transport to customers, and make room on terminal yards for cargo awaiting to be unloaded from ships at berth."
Congestion in the terminals has resulted in the number of containerships at anchor outside the two ports growing dramatically over the past month. Normally containerships go directly to berth, but for most of the past week there have been more than 10 containerships at anchor.
Source: Marine Exchange of Southern California.
The ILWU has said that congestion in the two ports is caused by many factors - the use of larger ships and the formation of new alliances by carriers, the decision by carriers to stop routinely providing chassis and a shortage of chassis, and an upswing in cargo.
On Friday the Port of Los Angeles said it had record container volume of 8.34 million TEUs, 6 percent more than in 2014, its third busiest year ever. In December 2014, overall volumes were 658,567 TEUs, 1 percent more than in December 2013.
“The 2014 numbers are an encouraging indication that the national economy continues to improve,” said Gene Seroka, the executive director of the Port of Los Angeles. “Beyond that, the second half of the year ushered in a mix of unprecedented challenges due to transformational changes in the shipping line business. We are working hard to help our customers and supply chain partners overcome those challenges and urge them to work together with us to find solutions. Additionally, we join cargo owners and industry stakeholders nationwide in encouraging the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and Pacific Maritime Association to work with urgency and good faith toward a new labor contract.”
As of late last Friday, 175 trade organizations had added their names to a letter to the presidents of the ILWU and PMA asking them for a "renewed commitment to stay the course, complete the contract negotiations as soon as possible and work to resolve the current congestion issues without further interrupting the flow of commerce."