Problems continue at the Port of Portland, Portland Tribune, Feb. 23, 2015

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Terminal operator, union trade accusations


Written by Jim Redden

That didn’t take long.

Only a few days after West Coast port operators reached a tentative contract agreement with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, the operator at Port of Portland is accusing the ILWU local of engaging in an illegal work stoppage.

The tentative labor agreement was announced between the Pacific Maritime Association and the ILWU on Friday. But on Monday, ICTSI Oregon, which operates Terminal 6, said the local union is not making a good faith effort to increase productivity to acceptable levels there.

In a statement issued Monday afternoon, ICTSI Oregon also said, “Additionally, the ILWU is failing to provide sufficient labor for needed container vessel and barge operations at the terminal. For example, the PMA today found that the ILWU engaged in an illegal work stoppage by failing to provide labor on Sunday, February 22, 2015, for the Hanjin Copenhagen. ICTSI Oregon is disappointed that the ILWU is continuing to purposely disrupt Terminal 6 operations and impact business in the Portland region.”

But Jennifer Sargent, a spokeswoman for the local IWLU union, said, “The statements that ICTSI made to the media about work stoppages were, as usual, self-serving and inaccurate. ICTSI arbitrarily fired entire crews of workers this week and then complained that no one was working. The fact is, ICTSI is failing to thrive in the United States because of its own managerial shortcomings, and desperately trying to blame others for its own mistakes. ICTSI’s poor decisions and rogue attitude have chased away two major customers in Portland and alienated their peers in the industry. If ICTSI spent as much time improving operations as they spend complaining to the media, our region would have a more productive container terminal by now.”

The Hanjin Copenhagen is operated by Hanjin Shipping, a major South Korean shipping company that has announced it will stop serving Terminal 6 after March 9 because of the long running labor problems there. ICTSI and the ILWU blame each other for the loss of the company, which is responsible for approximately 80 percent of the shipments at Terminal 6, Oregon’s only deep water port.

The loss of the company is expected to have a major impact on Oregon industries dependent on shipping, including agriculture.

The PMA and ILWU announced they had reached a tenative agreement covering all 20 West Coast ports on Friday. The local union has been fighting with ICTSI for several years, however, accusing the Phillippine-based company of being anti-union.