PMA asks for labor on Labor Day
Terminal operators in Los Angeles-Long Beach are asking the International Longshore and Warehouse Union to make a one-time exception this year and allow longshoremen to work on Labor Day, which the union considers to be a near-sacred holiday. However, it's starting to look as if Labor Day will remain a no-work day similar to Bloody Thursday, the ILWU's annual July 5 holiday commemorating the shootings of two dockworkers 70 years ago that led to the founding of the union. James McKenna, president of the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents employers, asked the ILWU two weeks ago to allow longshoremen to accept jobs on Labor Day if they wished to work. The PMA is trying to prevent a huge backlog of cargo like the one that resulted when Los Angeles-Long Beach was shut down on July 5. James Spinosa, ILWU international president, and David Arian, president of Local 13 in Southern California, said McKenna did not contact them. McKenna said the PMA's vice president of operations in Southern California wrote a letter to Arian, but had not received an official response by last week. Meanwhile, the Marine Exchange of Southern California reported on Sept. 25 that it was taking some terminals five to seven days to work ships because of a dockworker labor shortage. Ships normally are turned around in three to four days.
Railroads invest to meet intermodal demand
Western railroads acknowledge a role in the current delays at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. But they say they're working to make things go more smoothly next year, if not by the end of this year's peak season for imports. The railroads are spending billions of dollars to expand the capacity of their tracks and intermodal railyards, to add crew and to expand their locomotive and railcar fleets. Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway is adding 547 locomotives this year and in the second half of the year will add 800 intermodal railcars. By 2006, BNSF expects to have its busiest route - Los Angeles to Chicago - completely double-tracked, with three tracks on some stretches. Union Pacific Railroad is spending a similar amount on expanded tracks, railyards, equipment and crew.
IMCs become asset owners as well as users
To accommodate a projected tripling of intermodal volume by 2020, intermodal marketing companies are increasing their investment in an intermodal network that they've traditionally counted on railroads to provide. Jerry Plummer, director of sales and marketing at C.H. Robinson Worldwide, said railroads can't provide enough rail equipment to meet all of their intermodal requirements during the peak shipping season, so third-party providers will increase their ownership of assets. That makes sense to Gregg Zody, director of national accounts at Burlington Northern Santa Fe Railway. He noted that rail-controlled containers average less than two trips per month while privately owned containers average 3.7 turns.
Senate Democrats want to approve FMC chair
Along with the reorganization that the Federal Maritime Commission put into action last week, Senate Democrats would like another change: the ability to confirm the chairman of the five-member commission. The Senate currently confirms presidential nominees to the FMC, but the president determines who will chair the commission. The latest example occurred when the Senate confirmed Steven R. Blust to the FMC in March 2002, but President Bush appointed Blust chairman in place of Harold Creel. Creel remains on the commission, although his term expired on June 30. The Senate had put the chair-confirmation language in the 2005 Coast Guard authorization bill, but it was taken out in the conference committee.
Renamed Zim plans shipbuilding program
The newly renamed Zim Integrated Shipping Services Ltd. has announced an $820 million program to build 12 ships totaling almost 60,000 TEUs. Eight 4,250-TEU ships and four 6,350-TEU vessels will be delivered between 2006 and early 2009. The four larger vessels will be the first post-Panamax ships in the Zim fleet. Zim is one of two carriers among the top 20 container lines that has not yet ordered or chartered post-Panamax vessels. The other carrier is CP Ships. The four 6,350-TEU ships are planned to join Zim's Asia-North Europe run, while the eight 4,250-TEU ships will join the Asia-Med Pacific Pendulum service. The smaller ships will be delivered in 2006-07 and the larger ones in 2008-09. Zim Integrated Shipping Services, previously known as Zim Israel Naviga-tion Co., said its new name reflects the company's development into an integrated shipping company that deals not only in shipping, but offers full supply-chain services.
Money left over from transportation projects
Some federal lawmakers apparently overestimated the cost of their pet transportation projects. According to the Government Accountability Office, Congress could recover about $16.4 million in federal highway construction funds for projects that were completed under budget or never started. The GAO report says there are 80 "demonstration projects" - many considered pork-barrel projects - with unobligated balances that are no longer needed. Georgia had one of the biggest unspent balances: $7.4 million it was awarded back in 1991 for a railroad relocation demonstration project in Augusta. Oregon didn't spend the $1.5 million to upgrade road access and related facilities to the Port at Port Orford. And New Jersey still has $13,636 left over from building a road from the former Military Ocean Terminal in Bayonne to the nearby Port Jersey terminal. And for those wondering how closely the federal government can watch its pennies, the report says another 41 projects had unspent balances of $20 or less.
Maritime History of New York to be republished
The Works Progress Administration, a Depression-era jobs program, produced numerous guide books to states and cities. One of them was "A Maritime History of New York," published in 1941. The 345-page book has been out of print for years, but Going Coastal Inc., a nonprofit organization dedicated to preserving New York City's maritime heritage, is seeking support from the maritime industry to help finance the book's republication. The modern version will include a foreward that elaborates on the port's maritime history since the original book was published. For information, contact Barbara La Rocco, president of Going Coastal, at (718) 243-9056, or via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.