Business Oregon, the Port of Portland, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Department of Transportation plan trip to minimize impact of fleeing container business.
BY JACOB PALMER | DIGITAL NEWS EDITOR
Representatives from Business Oregon, the Port of Portland, the Oregon Department of Agriculture and Department of Transportation are planning a statewide trip to seek solutions to minimize the impact of Hanjin and Hapag-Lloyd’s departure on Portland’s container port.
The trip grew out of Gov. Kate Brown’s $30,000 pledge in April to aid exporters in the wake of the port turmoil.
The intent is to figure out where to invest money — either in trucks, trains or alternate marine ports — to help small and mid-sized companies hit hard when Hanjin Shipping Co. and Hapag-Lloyd left the Port of Portland. The two shipping lines comprised nearly all the business at Terminal 6, Portland’s container port. The input will be turned into a package of proposals for the Oregon Legislature to discuss in 2016.
According to the state, nearly all Oregon exporters were small and medium-sized companies — 5,300 out of 6,000. Electronics, agricultural products and machinery top the list of Oregon’s highest-value exports, bringing in $20.9 billion in 2014.
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The Port of Portland container terminal operator and an Idaho senator are collaborating to prohibit unions from work slowdowns as a negotiation tactic.
Sen. James Risch, an Idaho Republican, introduced a bill in Congress that would define slowdowns as an unfair labor practice — a response to the backlog of ships and containers along the west Coast during months-long contract negotiation between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and port operators. So far, no Oregon legislators have publicly supported the bill.
“The practice of ‘slowing down’ the critical West Coast ports is dangerous for the Idaho economy and the larger national economy,” Risch said in a statement. “With more than 65 percent of all U.S. container exports and the substantial imports traveling through ports like Lewiston, it is critical that these ports and their workers remain fully-functioning.”
ICTSI Oregon CEO Elvis Ganda, who consistently expressed frustration with the union as Terminal 6 lost nearly all of its business, said, “This legislation represents an important change to maritime labor law that will go a long way toward ensuring a more stable work environment at West Coast ports, one in which innocent parties are not subjected to severe economic damage by unfair union slowdown tactics.”