The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) is meeting in San Francisco later this month to consider a vote on starting early talks with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) for an extension of the current West Coast wide contract past the current July 1, 2019, expiration date.
If the ILWU approves early talks, Jim McKenna of the PMA said that they would most likely begin meetings in September to focus on a few key items such as wages and contract terms.
The West Coast ports are facing increased competition with Canadian and East Coast ports due to the past labor issues and the widening of the Panama Canal. An extension of the current contract is an effort to show beneficial cargo owners that the ports have labor stability in hopes of regaining market share. East and Gulf Coast ports and Canadian ports last year reported record container volumes, while West Coast ports languished.
In other news, the Port of Oakland is struggling with their new mandatory trucker appointment system (for most imports) that was put in place to accommodate increased container volumes.
Beneficial cargo owners have been complaining of increasing demurrage costs due to insufficient slots each day for making appointments, by time the container is picked up, the free time has expired.
The problems are compounded by the fact that many truckers and warehouses do no work at night, and therefore not taking advantage of the extended gate hours available at night.
Also, a ruling by the California Superior Court that the environmental impact report for a proposed near-dock rail yard for the Port of Los Angeles – Long Beach is inadequate, will set back the project another two years unless the expected appeal by the BNSF Railway and the city and Port of Los Angeles reverses the ruling.
Per the BNSF, the Court ruling is an “unprecedented expansion” of the scope of the California Environmental Quality Act.
Gene Seroka, Executive Director of the Port of Los Angeles said that the project is vitally important to improve the efficiency of the entire port complex and the region. Mr. Seroka went on to say that the Port spent eight years preparing a 5,000 page analysis for the environmental impact report.
A near-dock rail yard would avoid the nearly 1 million annual intermodal containers that are drayed over 20 miles on the congested I-710 freeway to the Hobart rail yard.