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For the marine industry, “onward and upward” may be a fitting idiom. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic a constant, port congestion a problem, a scarcity of ship capacity and a shortage of terminal workers and truck drivers, just to mention a few issues, cargo keeps moving and ports and terminals keep doing their best to meet the daily challenges and plan for the future.

Hans Bean, chief commercial officer for North Carolina Ports, touched on the impact of supply chain issues in the breakbulk sector.

“Much has been written about the major supply chain disruption caused by the container carriers,” he notes. “This has driven shippers, where possible, to shift more of their supply chain to breakbulk. North Carolina Ports has seen import and export shippers increase the share of their ocean freight to breakbulk over the last six months.”

Bean says this global switch to more breakbulk “has driven up breakbulk ocean rates as well as warehouse utilization. The challenges on the U.S. East Coast lie primarily with warehouse capacity.”

He explained that, “In recent months, many U.S. East Coast ports have reached warehouse capacity limits and either had to turn vessels away or force extremely long wait times.” 

Though warehouse capacity is approaching 100% utilization, North Carolina Ports “has not overstepped its capacity limits due to its flexibility with its two-port solution,” Bean says in references to the ports of Wilmington and Morehead City. “Moreover, North Carolina Ports has land to grow and is looking to invest alone and with partners so to add capacity.”

North Carolina Ports’ two deep-water terminals at Wilmington and Morehead City have a long tradition of handling bulk and breakbulk cargoes. Over the past six years, Bean’s port authority has spent more than $200 million upgrading its container and non-container facilities at both locations.

“In the past two years, new dimension lumber breakbulk services have taken advantage of these improvements in both ports with Ultrabulk, G2 Ocean, Saga Welco and Spliethoff all activating new breakbulk services,” Bean said.

“At the Port of Wilmington, the diverse and multi-purpose terminal allows shippers that utilize both container and breakbulk modes of transportation to pivot between containers and breakbulk,” said Bean. “The ability to provide cross-over solutions has become a major advantage as pulp and paper products, grain, steel and even cold chain shippers seek additional capacity and re-evaluate their supply chains.” 

He also noted that on one terminal, Scoular, a major exporter of grain, feed and food ingredients, is completing a new grain transload facility that is scheduled to be operational by mid-November.

The Port of Morehead City, dedicated to bulk and breakbulk, recently received a new Liebherr LPS 420 crane, including new buckets/hopper equipment. 

Southern exposure

After a drop in cargo volume in fiscal year 2020/21, things are looking up at the Port of Beaumont, with an eye on growing volumes and moving forward on infrastructure projects at the Texas facility.

“2021 has been the year of focusing on infrastructure improvements to increase capacity at the Port of Beaumont,” said Sade Chick, the port’s director of Corporate Affairs. “As of Q3 of 2021, industrial projects have started to pick back up, which has had a positive impact on breakbulk volumes.”

Sade said the port recently issued more than $400 million in revenue bonds to Jefferson Energy Companies, the port’s private partner and operator of the Orange County Liquid Bulk Terminal, which will go toward infrastructure improvements, including construction of a third dock at the facility. An uptick in liquid bulk cargo volumes is anticipated in 2022. 

As well, the port commissioners approved a $217 million capital improvement program, comprised of 20 projects for 2021-2022. 

“The port is especially excited about this program because three of our largest projects will be out to bid by early 2022,” Chick said in reference to the Main Street Terminal 1 dock reconstruction project ($85.2 million), Grain Dock rehabilitation project ($25 million) and construction of a new rail interchange track ($12.3 million).

Also, of the 20 projects, 10 will directly impact breakbulk handling. The hard-surfacing of lots 5 and 13, the Lot 14 paving project, South End Infrastructure improvements and the Harbor Island Drive resurfacing project will result in an additional 30 acres of hard-surfaced laydown area for breakbulk cargoes.

Harbor Island Drive is the main road used to move cargo in and out of the port. The road will be resurfaced to expedite the process of moving large project components, like wind blades. 

Chick said that, “Upon completion of Main Street Terminal 1, the port will have an additional 1,150-foot-long dock used for general cargo handling. This will provide the port with an additional berth that will primarily be used for military equipment, wind turbine components and forest products.”

With a glimpse to the future, Chick said, “We anticipate growth in project cargo, specifically wind turbine components and refinery components. The driver for growth in wind energy is the Biden administration’s approved plans for the construction of the first, large-scale U.S. offshore wind farm.” 

The petrochemical industry is cyclical and historically, a downturn is followed by fairly rapid recovery, which comes in the form of projects starting back up, increasing the amount of project cargo moving through the Port of Beaumont. 

Milwaukee brewing

Although breakbulk has been down about 8% so far this year at Port Milwaukee located on Lake Michigan, Port Director Adam Tindall-Schlicht is optimistic some major projects will increase volumes.

Port Milwaukee handles a wide variety of breakbulk and non-containerized cargo, including steel (coils, plate, and long products), wind turbine components (towers, nacelles, blades, generators), brewery tanks, mining equipment, yachts, forest products, transformers, farm and construction machinery, manufacturing equipment, bagged materials and other project cargoes.

But one project, in particular, that holds great promise for the port is the construction of new headquarters and manufacturing plant by Komatsu Mining Corp, which produces heavy equipment. The project, in the Milwaukee Harbor District, has a price tag of $285 million. 

“The Komatsu project is directly related to opportunities for breakbulk,” said Tindall-Schlicht. “Komatsu has historically leveraged the Milwaukee port when it is exporting its mining equipment and large breakbulk pieces. Now that their new headquarters and manufacturing facilities are directly adjacent to us in the Harbor District, we really anticipate increased activity with Komatsu.”

Port Milwaukee has also been getting activity from the Ascent project under construction downtown. The 25-story apartment tower is the world’s largest timber structure “and we are within their supply chain so those pieces (timber) are being imported into North America from Austria, and the port is providing just-in-time delivery services,” Tindall-Schlicht said.

The port has put an emphasis on capital improvement this year and is in the process of developing the DeLong Terminal, which is an $85-million agriculture export terminal. It is expected to be operational in April 2023.

As has been the situation globally, the COVID-19 pandemic has impacted Milwaukee’s trade patterns.

Although 2020 was the port’s best year in seven years with an overall commercial volume increase of 5%, Tindall-Schlicht pointed out that, “The supply chain and worldwide logistics issues that we have seen this year as a result of COVID are starting to impact the port. Our breakbulk trade is down about 8% so far this season.” 

It just goes to show that challenging issues in the marine industry are not confined to containerized cargo.

“We are seeing changes and impacts in dry bulk and breakbulk markets and really in all commodity areas that Port Milwaukee serves,” Tindall-Schlicht said.

While some of the decline can relate to supply chain and logistics issues, he said another “piece of this is many of the Trump era tariffs are still very much in play and causing some hardship here after years of being out there. We are still looking for some relaxation on some of those Trump era tariffs, and we hope the global trade community can come together and figure out a new paradigm as we go forward.”

Merrily, merrily Maryland

At the Port of Baltimore, “Big Red” is not just the name of a soda pop or chewing gum. It’s also the handle for a 167-foot long Manitowoc M250T crane at the port’s Dundalk Marine Terminal that can lift a staggering 200 metric tons. You’ll also find a Manitowoc GROVE GMK 7550 crane named ‘Yellow’ that can hoist 182 metric tons, as well as a heavy lift floating crane that can directly load heavy cargo from vessels to a barge, truck or railcar bed.

The terminal has direct rail access via CSX and is adjacent to the I-95 corridor and I-695 beltway. Indeed, the port boasts of having “the most cost-effective and efficient routing for the Mid-Atlantic region, the Midwest and beyond,” which explains why Baltimore ranks first among the nation’s ports for volume of autos and light trucks, ro-ro heavy farm and construction machinery and imported gypsum.

In the movement of vehicles, Baltimore has handled more autos and light trucks than any other U.S. port for 10 consecutive years, and the rebound from pandemic lows indicates continued strength in that category. In April, 34,672 autos and light trucks came across the port’s public docks, a tremendous 97% increase compared to the category’s pandemic low point in May 2020. In addition to new vehicles, the port also handles previously owned vehicles. In April, that category was also up 27% compared to the same month last year.

Public terminals at the port handled 85,405 tons of heavy machinery, up 73% compared to the category’s low point in June 2020 and a 30% increase compared to April of last year. Overall general cargo, with 937,439 tons, was up 28% compared to the category’s June 2020 low and up 7% year-over-year. 

K-Line, Nordana Line, NYK Bulkship, Höegh Autoliners, Grimaldi Lines, Westfal Larsen, Mitsui O.S.K. Lines, Atlantic Container Lines, Wallenius Wilhelmsen Logistics, Canada States Africa Line, and Atlantic Ro/Ro Carriers Bahri (the national shipping company of Saudi Arabia) are among the roll-on/roll-off breakbulk carriers that call on the port.

“Our cargo figures are bouncing back strong,” William Doyle, Maryland Department of Transportation Maryland Port Administration’s (MDOT MPA) executive director, says in a release. “Farming and construction are picking up once again, worldwide, and American-made equipment is being exported to global markets through the Port of Baltimore. We are also moving forward with rail and terminal infrastructure projects that will help generate thousands of jobs and grow our business for many years to come.”

Georgia peachy

Located about 18 miles inland on the Savannah River, the Port of Savannah has 16 private terminals that handle a variety of products, ranging from woodchips and liquid natural gas to paper goods and petroleum.

But the Georgia Ports Authority (GPA) also owns and operates Savannah’s Garden City Terminal and Ocean Terminal, with the latter primarily being a breakbulk facility with about 5,800 feet of contiguous dock space. Vehicles, heavy duty non-road equipment and other types of breakbulk cargo pass through Ocean Terminal.

In 2015, GPA implemented a new tracking system to more quickly process breakbulk cargo and provide real-time freight tracking for shippers moving cargo through the Port of Savannah. Then GPA Executive Director Curtis Foltz, who has since retired and been succeeded by Griff Lynch, said at the time, “The new system means faster service and better communication with our breakbulk customers.”

The Port of Brunswick is also a ro-ro, bulk and breakbulk facility that handled more than 685,000 units of vehicles and heavy machinery is fiscal year 2021 and contributed to the GPA seeing an 18% rise in total ro-ro volume compared to the previous year.

Port officials said the facilities saw a fast recovery from the global economic downturn of 2020.

To keep up with this unprecedented growth, GPA has accelerated its hiring efforts, bringing on nearly 150 new employees since January 2021. Many of these employees are being trained in jockey trucks, yard cranes and other equipment to handle growth at GPA’s facilities.

UK container

UK Ports Suffering Post-Brexit Container Logjams

Post-Brexit trade disruption and ongoing congestion are causing critical build-ups of containers at UK ports, according to the latest data from Container xChange.

The UK’s leading container terminals struggled to cope with the pandemic-driven surge of imports last year resulting in lengthy delays for haulers and vessels and an excess of containers building up in ports. 

Since the UK departed the European Union on January 1 and started trading under a post-Brexit customs and regulatory regime, the latest data from Container xChange, the world’s leading online platform for buying, selling, and leasing shipping containers, indicates the situation has worsened.

Under Container xChange’s Container Availability Index (CAx), an index reading of 0.5 describes a balanced market. Below 0.5 means there is a shortage of containers. Above 0.5 means there is an excess of containers.

At the port of Felixstowe, the average reading of the CAx so far in 2021 for a 40 ft container is 0.95, up from 0.79 in 2020. The CAx for a 20 ft box has increased from an average of 0.78 in 2020 to 0.90 this year.

A similar picture is apparent at the port of Southampton where the CAx reading for a 40 ft container is 0.86 in 2021, up from an average of 0.71 last year. For a 20 ft container, the CAx reading is 0.85, up from an average of 0.72 in 2020.

“The UK’s leading gateway terminals for container traffic suffered congestion for much of 2020 prompting carriers to cut some calls and ship cargo in from European hubs via the Channel Tunnel, ferry services, and feeder services instead,” said Dr. Johannes Schlingmeier, CEO of Container xChange.  

“Based on the build-up of containers at ports in 2021, it seems the situation has further deteriorated. We are now seeing critical levels of boxes building up at Southampton and Felixstowe. Post-Brexit cross-Channel shipments are more complicated under dual Customs regimes and this could be a factor in logistics bottlenecks.”

Efforts by container lines to avoid Brexit disruption and delays at southern terminals by launching new services into the port of Liverpool are also now coming unstuck, with the port struggling to handle increased volumes. This is reflected in an accelerating excess of containers at the port.

In 2020 the average CAx reading at the port of Liverpool for a 40 ft container was 0.59. In 2021 this has climbed to 0.75. For a 20 ft container, the CAx reading in 2021 is 0.82, up from an average of 0.68 last year.

European gateway ports have also suffered disruptions and delays due to pandemic-driven container traffic surges. However, container availability at leading hubs is currently better balanced than in the UK.

At the port of Rotterdam, the CAx average reading for a 40 ft container this year is 0.51, compared to an average of 0.40 in 2020. At Antwerp, shortages have been a problem, with an average reading for a 40 ft container of 0.21 in 2020 improving to a more balanced 0.41 this year. 

Similarly, in Hamburg, the average CAx reading for a 40 ft container in 2020 was 0.27 suggesting critical shortages. This year the average reading has improved to 0.49.


About Container xChange: Container xChange operates the leading online platform for the leasing and trading of shipping containers. More than 600 shipping companies including Kuehne+Nagel, Seaco and Sarjak rely on its platform to increase flexibility and simplify the operational handling of SOC Containers.


Port-Side Energy Debate: Propane vs. Electric

Ports and terminals across the country are looking for opportunities to streamline their operation, reduce their environmental impact, and increase efficiency, which leads to a common question: What alternative energy keeps ports productive while cutting emissions?

Both propane and electric solutions offer certain operational benefits. For example, electric equipment produces zero emissions during operation and offers reliable performance when handling lighter loads. Propane equipment, on the other hand, is popular for its nonstop power, resiliency, and versatility to handle loads of all sizes.

It’s important to consider which energy source can help you get the most out of your workday and your equipment. Propane-powered equipment can help ports maximize efficiency, while still allowing port crews to be proud stewards of the environment. And because propane is a primary energy source and electricity is a secondary energy source, it takes more energy to produce electricity, impacting its cleanliness, efficiency, and cost.

A transparent look at site-to-source emissions

As ports and terminals seeking reduced emissions and better air quality flee from traditional fuels, like gasoline and diesel, many have a tendency to adopt an electrify-everything mindset — but a low-emissions future doesn’t need to be an electric-only one.

Propane presents another alternative to traditional diesel-powered equipment — and with a more transparent emissions profile than electricity. Many material handling professionals I speak to are surprised to learn that propane is actually cleaner than electric when you take site-to-source emissions into account.

While it’s true electric-powered equipment and vehicles produce zero emissions during operation, it’s full emissions profile and impact is often overlooked, including emissions produced in the creation and transmission of electric batteries. Additionally, you have to consider the emissions produced at coal-fired plants where electricity is generated, as well as the emissions during transportation to the port. And because the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) considers electric batteries a hazardous material, you can’t simply dispose of them without severely impacting the environment. Instead, they have specific handling and disposal regulations attached.

Propane, on the other hand, is an approved clean alternative fuel under the Clean Air Act of 1990 and, according to data from the Propane Education & Research Council, using propane produces 43 percent fewer greenhouse gas emissions than using an equivalent amount of electricity generated from the U.S. grid

Additionally, renewable propane is an emerging energy source that will be able to offer clean, low-emissions operations. Renewable propane is a byproduct of the renewable diesel and jet fuel production process, which converts plant and vegetable oils, waste greases, and animal fat into energy. Because it’s produced from renewable, raw materials, renewable propane is even cleaner than conventional propane — and far cleaner than other energy sources. And considering its chemical structure and physical properties are the same as traditional propane, renewable propane can be used for all the same applications.

Unmatched performance for maximum productivity

We all know that crews working port-side don’t have time to waste during the workday. According to IHS Markit’s Global Trade Atlas (GTA) Forecasting, North American seaports handled 2.34 billion metric tons of goods, valued at $2.53 trillion. In order to keep pace with the demanding workload and efficiently perform heavy-duty tasks, crews need powerful, versatile equipment.

Battery-powered forklifts and electric vehicles can be a compelling solution when handling lighter tasks, but performance in a port setting is really where propane sets itself apart. Propane offers the versatility to handle virtually every workload size and most notably, dominates the middle and top weight classes of forklifts with 90 percent of Class 4 and 5 forklifts being powered by propane. This means you can look to propane for a one-fuel solution, plus you won’t have to schedule downtime for recharging, like with electric.

Reliability when you need it most

Port cities are historic, which often means they’re relying on much older energy grids. But because of their relentless workload, it’s important for port operations to be as independent and autonomous with their energy source as possible. Fortunately, propane is a dependable, resilient energy source that can be stored on-site so it’s always there when you need it.

To learn more about the benefits of port-side propane equipment, visit


Matt McDonald is the director of off-road business development for the Propane Education & Research Council. He can be reached at

Port of Long Beach Clogged with Box Cargo

Long Beach, CA – Cargo movement through the Port of Long Beach is being delayed from three to five days because of a surge in cargo volume and a “stressed and in some cases, flawed ”supply chain infrastructure, according to port Chief Executive Jon Slangerup.

Speaking at a recent town hall meeting at the Center for International Trade & Transportation at California State University – Long Beach, Slangerup said the flaws result from a failure of the supply chain “to work as an integrated system.”

Slangerup’s comments follow his recent formation of a Congestion Relief Team (CRT) “to meet daily, seek solutions, and solicit feedback from our staff in the field.”

The port, he said, “will do everything we can bring our partners who operate and work at the terminals together to identify bottlenecks and implement solutions.”

The first target of the CRT is the shortage of chassis at the port, a situation that Slangerup has called a “mismanaged mess.” Chassis are the frame trailers used to haul cargo containers.

“There is a chassis imbalance,” said Dr. Noel Hacegaba, the Port’s chief operating officer. “This is a big part of the congestion issue and I have been facilitating discussions with the key players to find relief as soon as possible.”

Cargo numbers rose sharply for the Port of Long Beach in September as the port recorded its heaviest traffic for that month since 2007, the port’s peak cargo volume year.

Nearly 630,000 containers moved through the port last month, a 7 percent increase over the same month last year.

Imports to Long Beach rose 10 percent as retailers brought in products for the holiday shopping season. More than 339,000 containers came into the port, making it the third-highest month for imports in the port’s history. Exports, however, fell 12 percent.

Over the first nine months of the year, container traffic at the Port of Long Beach is up 1.7 percent.

Cargo numbers climbed in September largely due to the importation of products for the upcoming holiday shopping season and the increased container capacity of the newer generation of containerships calling at the port.


Quebec Stevedoring to Manage Port of Ogdensburg, NY

Ogdensburg, NY – The Ogdensburg Bridge and Port Authority (OBPA) has unanimously approved an agreement to grant the management of its New York port terminal to NASCO (NY), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Quebec Stevedoring (QSL).

The northernmost port in the State of New York and one of the closest US ports to Europe, the Port of Ogdensburg is the only US port on the St. Lawrence Seaway.

The new partnership “enhances the positioning of Quebec Stevedoring in the North American cargo handling industry and is perfectly aligned with its long term growth objectives,” the OBPA said.

“We partner with the best. We build solid relations with other passionate industry players. The partnership with Ogdensburg is a perfect example of this dynamic and we foresee good prospects for both parties in the years to come,” said Bruce Graham, Great Lakes Stevedoring vice-president.

Quebec Stevedoring handles over 20 million tons of general and dry bulk cargo through its network of 29 port facilities annually.

Its terminal facilities are strategically sited along the St. Lawrence Seaway up to the Great Lakes and are located in Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, New Brunswick, Quebec, Ontario, Chicago, and now Ogdensburg.

Every year, the company’s facilities accommodate more than 1,000 inbound or outbound vessels from all corners of the world.


Ports Face ‘Big Ships, Big Challenges’: White Paper

Long Beach, CA – The deployment of the latest generation of mega-containerships “presents physical, financial and operational challenges that must be met by port authorities across the country” according to the Port of Long Beach’s Acting Deputy Executive Director, Dr. Noel Hacegaba.

Even for ports that will not see the mega vessels call at their ports any time soon, the arrival of the larger ships is creating a cascading effect in which the ships being replaced by mega vessels are being deployed in the smaller trade lanes,” says Hacegaba in a new white paper, “Big Ships, Big Challenges.”

The average size of container ships, he says, has grown considerably in recent years and the trend is likely to continue for years to come.

“Although 18,000 TEU [20-foot equivalent unit] vessels are the largest in service currently, ships that carry more than 10,000 TEUs are still considered large and have limited options with regards to trade lanes and to ports that can accommodate them,” he writes.

Hacegaba said the industry is turning to the larger ships because they reduce operating costs for shipping operators, and they help meet regulatory requirements to decrease in potentially harmful emissions.

According to the white paper, ports around the country are spending $46 billion in capital improvements, including $4.5 billion invested at the Port of Long Beach. Shipping companies “are ordering larger ships to meet demand, while cutting the operational costs they would otherwise incur by sending cargo on multiple trips.”

As a result, ports of all sizes “are struggling to ready themselves to handle the larger vessels.”

Hacegaba states that regardless of a port’s size, they face a demand to handle a larger class of vessels. In the coming years it is projected that smaller vessels will be put out of services to make way for larger ones. But the largest ships will go to the biggest ports, while today’s larger ships will switch to smaller ports.

For the vessel operators, “the major investments in larger ships is straining their resources. So ocean carrier alliances and consolidations are also being forged as a result,” he says.

While this is not new to the maritime industry, Hacegaba points out that they are “providing financial uncertainty for port authorities.”

The newly aligned or consolidated vessel operators may move to different ports, while a smaller port may spend millions on fixing its infrastructure, and then lose a major tenant. In addition, smaller ports that don’t upgrade infrastructure because of their struggle for funding may face losing business as small-sized fleets are phased out.

The maritime industry “is ever evolving as technologies improve,” he concludes, with port authorities “playing a primary role” in educating both the industry and the public in potential changes.

“Ports must be built to handle larger ships and be prepared when shipping alliances do not go in their favor. As the maritime industry and how goods are moved change, so must ports if they are to be ready to handle the next generation of larger ships.”


New Orleans Plans Improvements at Intermodal Terminal

New Orleans, LA – The Port of New Orleans awarded a $13.3 million contract to Metairie-based Hardrock Construction for improvements to the Mississippi River Intermodal Terminal.

The 12-acre project is intended to upgrade the terminal, improving the movement of marine and rail cargo at the port while also reducing its carbon footprint.

The current project includes constructing a rail yard with 10,000 linear feet of track and five-acres of heavy-duty paving to be used for the efficient transfer of containers. The scope of the contract includes electrical, drainage and utility work, along with the installation of new water feeds to additional hydrants.

Existing rail lines currently moving cargo will be removed upon completion of the new tracks so intermodal service at the Napoleon Avenue Container Terminal will not be interrupted.

The port received a $16.7 million Transportation Investment Generating Economic Recovery (TIGER) grant for the project in 2012, after state and city politicians expressed their support for it to the US Department of Transportation.

The total cost of the project, with the addition of new terminal equipment and engineering services, is expected to reach $21 million.

Port officials expect the project to be completed by February 2016.


Secrecy of ILWU, PMA Contract Talks Blasted

Los Angeles, CA – The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and the International Longshore & Warehouse Union (ILWU) should “part the curtain of secrecy surrounding their contract negotiations,” according to Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Gary Toebben.

The deadline for reaching agreement on a new labor contract governing America’s 29 West Coast ports passed at 5 p.m. PST this afternoon “and the scant amount of insight or information on the future status of a new contract worries many,” he said.

Toebben made his comments in an editorial for the Los Angeles Daily News published on the paper’s website  just a few hours before the contract deadline expired.

The last public statement on the progress of the talks was made on June 4 when the negotiations were described as “positive” by the leadership of both the PMA and the ILWU.

“About 12.5 percent of the US GDP currently flows through the ports, and 9.2 million jobs across America — including 3.7 million in California alone — depend on the efficient flow of goods on and off the docks,” he wrote.

“Industries spanning agriculture to manufacturing, from autos to electronics, and across all sectors of retail are currently scampering to implement contingency plans given that neither a new contract nor a contract extension has been announced, he said.”

Both the PMA, which represents the terminal operators and shipping companies, and the ILWU, which represents the 20,000 dock workers at the ports in California, Oregon and Washington, he said “are staying tight-lipped about the talks that have been ongoing for two months.”

It has been widely reported, Toebben added, “that rising health care costs are a major sticking point, given that the longshoremen, retirees and their families enjoy one of the most envied health care plans available in America today, with unlimited coverage at little or no cost.”

Also, he said, “it’s also understood that West Coast ports have been leaking market share for the past decade or more, as competing ports on America’s East and Gulf coasts have been lowering costs, improving performance and building infrastructure to attract greater shipping volumes. Global manufacturing patterns too are shifting, putting more origination points closer to East and Gulf coast destinations.”

Decrying the loss of cargo marketshare, Toebben said, “Suddenly, the West Coast is not the monopoly it used to be — and current lack of an agreement or extension only hastens shippers’ efforts to further diversify their transportation networks. In Southern California, the information ‘blackout’ by PMA and ILWU only fuels the worries of employees, families, politicians, communities and businesses small and large, who together wonder if we’ll see a repeat of 2002’s billion-dollar-per-day coast-wide shut down.”

Information, he charges, “is limited, but the questions aren’t – how close are the parties to reaching a new contract?; what issues have already been fully resolved, and which still remain?; will an extension be formalized to assuage concerns while talks continue?; will the union engage in work slowdowns if an extension can’t be signed?; and, can the ports continue to operate efficiently, with everyday issues and grievances resolved amicably, without an extension?

“Given the critical importance of the ports in today’s local and regional economies, and for the sake of the millions of people who depend on the uninterrupted flow of goods in and out of America,” Toebben concluded. “Such transparency is essential, especially given what is at stake now — and for years to come.”