WEST COAST PORTS TO TEMPORARILY SUSPEND WEEKEND VESSEL OPERATIONS IN LIGHT OF CONTINUED UNION SLOWDOWNS
News Release from PMA
San Francisco – February 6, 2015 – The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced today that weekend vessel loading and unloading operations will be temporarily suspended this weekend, with yard, rail and gate operations continuing at terminal operators’ discretion. In light of ongoing union slowdowns up and down the coast which have brought the ports almost to a standstill, PMA member companies finally have concluded that they will no longer continue to pay workers premium pay for diminished productivity.
“After three months of union slowdowns, it makes no sense to pay extra for less work,” said PMA spokesman Wade Gates, “especially if there is no end in sight to the union’s actions which needlessly brought West Coast ports to the brink of gridlock.”
Vessel operations are scheduled to resume Monday, February 9. Yard operations – that is, moving processed containers for truck and rail delivery to customers – will continue at terminal operators’ discretion, although the ILWU continues to limit operations by withholding the needed crane operators or operating slowly.
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ILWU: ILWU President blasts PMA threat to shut down US ports
AS: Truckers declare force majeure as West Coast port congestion continues
Talanei: First Ship in Four Weeks Arrives American Samoa
Store shelves should be restocked of goods which had run out or in short supply due to the work slowdown on US west coast ports.
The first freighter from the US in four weeks, the Cap Avatele arrived in port this morning much to the relief of store owners and customers.
Local agents Samoa Pacific Shipping began unloading cargo after the freighter docked and customs officers are working overtime tonight to ensure that containers are inspected and cleared so stores can get their goods as soon as possible.
Acting Chief of Customs Moetulu’i Fuiava says two crews will be working to clear containers for merchants that have requested their help.
He said, "We want to help get some of the goods on the shelves as soon as possible."
AS: PMA Says Hawaii Not Going to be Affected
A Hawaii state legislator expressed concern that his state could be facing shortages of food or other goods due to the slowdown at West Coast ports.
“Negotiations between the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) have grinded to a halt, with the PMA indicating it could be five to ten days away from a lockout. As a result, Hawaii could be facing extreme delays in shipments of goods and empty store shelves,” Sen. Sam Slom said in a statement.
Slom said, "A lockout on the West Coast would be devastating to Hawaii. It would result in food and household goods shortages, and could have serious economic effects for Hawaii, including affecting our number one industry, tourism. Because the parties have no obligation to arbitrate, the battle between the PMA and ILWU is getting out of control. It is time for our President of the United States and our unheard from congressional delegates to get involved and use the power of their offices to take this in hand and clear the congestion in West Coast ports."
McKenna, however, when asked Wednesday about the situation in Hawaii, said domestic trades "have not been impacted to a measurable degree."
"Jones Act vessels, as well as cruise ships, as well as military vessels were really carved out of this discussion and work as normally as possible," said McKenna. "So I would say the impact, if at all, would be marginal. He noted in the past lockouts or strikes “Jones Act vessels usually get exemptions from that, as well as cruise ships and military ships.”
Jeff Hull, a spokesman for Matson Line, said that while there is always concern in an island economy about any sort of disruption to shipping services, Matson ships have had only minimal delays, for perhaps a half-day or day, because of labor issues and some of those may have been caused by weather. He also noted that in 2002, when West Coast ports were shutdown during a lockout, there was an exemption for the Hawaii trade and that was likely to happen again.
But a resolution that Slom plans to introduce in the legislature Friday says, "American Samoa has not had a ship from the West Coast in over one month; and local Hawaii stores are already feeling the effects of the slow down with shelves sparse and produce being disposed of because it is too spoiled to sell; and a lock-out may result in Hawaii receiving no West Coast freight, resulting in a lack of food and basic supplies and a huge disruption to the economy and severely impacting Hawaii's tourist sector."
PHOTO: 19 Ships Idling off Port of LA/LB