The hard-fought agreement between Hanjin Shipping and the International Longshoremen’s Association on reduced staffing requirements does more than clear the way for work on a new terminal in Jacksonville, Fla. It signals a potential sea change in the staffing standards the ILA is likely to hammer out for other new terminals on the U.S. East and Gulf coasts.
The lower requirements agreed by the ILA in Jacksonville sets a standard that will enable future terminals built in ports where the ILA has jurisdiction to incorporate levels of automation that have been seen only in terminals such as the 2-year-old terminal built by APM Terminals in Portsmouth, Va.
“The ILA agreement with Hanjin opens up the door for more automated ports,” said Roy Schleicher, chief commercial officer at the Jacksonville Port Authority. “As people start to build new terminals, they will look at Jacksonville and have the ability to go with similar manning requirements.”
Charles Spencer, Jacksonville-based executive vice president of the ILA’s South Atlantic and Gulf District, said Jacksonville ILA members voted unanimously for the deal after viewing a video of the automation at Hanjin’s newly opened Algeciras terminal and hearing descriptions of it from him and two ILA local presidents who had toured the Spanish terminal.
“This is the state of the technology now,” Spencer said. “There are probably going to be terminals like this elsewhere in the U.S., and we wanted to protect the ILA’s jurisdiction over the work. This agreement does that.”
Spencer said the lengthy negotiation reflected the effort to balance labor and management objectives. “We were trying to get the best deal we could, and they were trying to get the best deal they could. It’s just normal negotiation,” he said.
Hanjin’s headquarters in Seoul declined comment on the new agreement.
The dockworker contract approved on Sept. 14 by the ILA in Jacksonville for Hanjin’s automated container terminal will reduce the size of work gangs but place crane technicians under ILA jurisdiction. The planned terminal will have computer-operated rail-mounted gantry cranes to load and unload container ships.
“I don’t see any ports tearing down their existing port facilities and making them into rail-mounted gantry systems, but as people start to build new terminals, they will look at Jacksonville and have the ability to go with similar manning requirements,” Schleicher said.
Jaxport already is starting work on the design and permitting process for the terminal. Jaxport will ask its board at its October meeting for permission to negotiate with the winning contractor in the bidding process that was concluded in 2009. Board Chairman Dave Kulik halted the design work at that point until the company and ILA could agree on staffing rules.
The design and engineering forms ranked at the top of the list in the 2009 bidding process were Halcrow, CH2M Hill and Moffatt & Nichol. As planned, the terminal will cost about $300 million, including cranes and other equipment. It will have a capacity of more than 800,000 TEUs when it opens.
Schleicher hopes the terminal will open by late 2013 or early 2014. “After six years, I want to get this thing done,” he said.
The new terminal will be built on Dames Point in the St. Johns River, next to MOL’s Trapac Container Terminal, which opened in January 2009.
“Putting two terminals together on the same peninsula is like having auto dealers next to each other on the same suburban shipping strip,” Schleicher said. “A carrier is more likely to go where there are numerous terminal choices. The more steamship options the shippers have at your port, the more cargo will move through your port.”
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