Despite deal, Port of Portland terminal operator says union not producing fast enough

While much of the West Coast got back to work, squabbling between labor and management continued at Terminal 6 in Portland.

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While much of the West Coast got back to work, squabbling between labor and management continued Monday at Terminal 6 in Portland.

The terminal operator, ICTSI Oregon, issued a statement just days after an agreement was reached Friday, accusing the International Longshore and Warehouse Union of performing an illegal work stoppage.

The Portland Tribune reports:

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, ICTSI Oregon also said, “Additionally, the ILWU is failing to provide sufficient labor for needed container vessel and barge operations at the terminal. For example, the PMA today found that the ILWU engaged in an illegal work stoppage by failing to provide labor on Sunday, February 22, 2015, for the Hanjin Copenhagen. ICTSI Oregon is disappointed that the ILWU is continuing to purposely disrupt Terminal 6 operations and impact business in the Portland region.”

And, as has become commonplace in the saga at the ports, the union shot right back with a statement accusing ICTSI of incompetent management.

But Jennifer Sargent, a spokeswoman for the local IWLU union, said, “The statements that ICTSI made to the media about work stoppages were, as usual, self-serving and inaccurate. ICTSI arbitrarily fired entire crews of workers this week and then complained that no one was working. The fact is, ICTSI is failing to thrive in the United States because of its own managerial shortcomings, and desperately trying to blame others for its own mistakes. ICTSI’s poor decisions and rogue attitude have chased away two major customers in Portland and alienated their peers in the industry. If ICTSI spent as much time improving operations as they spend complaining to the media, our region would have a more productive container terminal by now.”

Portland Business Journal’s Erik Siemers speculated that the residual fighting is rooted in a bigger problem: the fact that Hanjin is leaving Portland.

The contract agreement between the ILWU and PMA solved a major problem for West Coast ports, most of which resumed normal operations over the weekend as they set to process a massive backlog of cargo that sat idle during labor talks. The Port of Portland, though, was dealt a major blow when Hanjin Shipping — the South Korean carrier responsible for 78 percent of T6’s container traffic last year — announced two weeks ago that it would end direct service to Portland starting March 9.

It could take several years for the port and ICTSI to find a shipper to replace Hanjin’s volumes. In an interview last week, Ganda said the ILWU has gone out of its way to drive away new business. He said his company and the ILWU Local 8 needed to work together to show prospective carriers that they were capable of processing cargo in a timely manner.


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