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19 January 2015

U.S. WEST COAST PORTS CONGESTION UPDATE - Operational conditions further deteriorate

Attachments: With this article are the following attachments

Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) statement

Bill Monquelluzzo, Senior Editor, The Journal of Commerce (Jan 12, 2015) - Despite the involvement of a federal mediator in contract negotiations over the past week, West Coast dockworkers are continuing their policy of work slowdowns and the withholding of skilled labor, bringing West Coast ports to the brink of “complete gridlock,” the Pacific Maritime Association said Monday.

Steve Getzug, PMA Spokesman - SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (January 12, 2015) – Eight months since contract talks began, and after more than two months of ILWU-staged slowdowns that have methodically reduced terminal productivity at the five largest ports on the West Coast, operations are approaching complete gridlock. 

Since late October 2014, the ILWU has crippled what were fully productive terminals in the Pacific Northwest and Oakland, and exacerbated a difficult congestion issue at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach by intentionally withholding dozens of essential skilled workers each shift for the past 10 weeks. 

The ILWU’s action in Southern California goes against 15 years of precedent and targets precisely the skilled workers who are most essential to clearing congested terminals. By withholding an average of 75 yard crane drivers each day, the ILWU has stalled the movement of tens of thousands of containers, PMA estimates. Since November 3, the Union has reduced these yard crane operator positions in Southern California by 67 percent. 

Last week, after repeated calls by PMA for the involvement of a federal mediator, the ILWU agreed to outside intervention. Since the mediator joined the talks, no further agreements have been reached and ILWU work slowdowns have continued to the point where many terminals are in peril of complete 

Hamburg Sud confirmed on January 15th that waiting times for ships to recieve a berth in Oakland now exceed 9 days and that in Long Beach/Los Angeles no night time work will be conducted as of January 14th due to a lack of skilled labour, further delaying any ability to relieve the congestion at the ports.

The Marine Exchange of Southern California reported today that 13 container ships were at anchor and awaiting berthing space in Los Angeles-Long Beach. Oakland reported that 7 container ships were at anchor and Tacoma also reported seven container ships at anchor. Although the ports have had vessel backups since last fall, the numbers are now accelerating.

The PMA publishes the attached statement late last week.

TCF International and our partners will continue to monitor the situation in an effort to keep you informed. 

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