This summer’s delays at the Port of New York and New Jersey have resulted from labor shortages and low productivity at container terminals, not from a shortage of trucking capacity, a leader in the port drayage community said.
Jeff Bader, president of the Association of Bi-State Motor Carriers and of Golden Carriers, disputed ocean carrier Hapag-Lloyd’s statement that a “shortage of trucking power” because of new hours of service rules was partly to blame for delays. The ship line also cited terminals’ system problems, labor shortages and construction and vessel bunching.
“There’s no truck shortage,” Bader said. “The problem is at the terminals, and it’s all labor-related.”
Bader criticized Hapag-Lloyd’s recommendation that customers use alternate ports until congestion eases at New York-New Jersey. “They should be part of the solution,” he said. “They could help by waiving free time and demurrage.”
He said the port’s continuing delays, which began in early June with system problems at Maher Terminals and spread to other terminals that were overwhelmed by diverted business, have been exacerbated by shortages of longshore labor, an annual issue during the summer vacation season.
Waterfront employers need to hire more workers to maintain productivity at terminals, Bader said. “We have 9 percent unemployment in New Jersey,” he said. “Open the books and hire more workers to handle the business.”
About 300 International Longshoremen’s Association workers, or roughly 10 percent of the port’s ILA work force, are expected to take early retirement and be replaced during the next year under the union’s new six-year contract. Expanding the size of the work force requires approval of the Waterfront Commission of New York Harbor.