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Hanjin to Resume Portland Container Service Saturday

by Erik Siemers
Portland Business Journal, August 1, 2012

South Korea-based container carrier Hanjin Shipping will resume service at the Port of Portland on Saturday after staying away for more than a month due to a contentious labor dispute.

Hanjin is the biggest international carrier at the port, representing about 80 percent of the container business at the port's Terminal 6, making Saturday's arrival of the Hanjin Mundra welcome news.

"The arrival of the Mundra will certainly assist the process of restoring confidence for all industry stakeholders," Sam Ruda, the port's chief commercial officer for the Port of Portland, said in a news release. "We are very pleased to welcome Hanjin's container service back to Portland." Hanjin and Germany's Hapag-Lloyd, the other carrier providing weekly container service at the port, each steered clear of the port while the dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and terminal operator ICTSI Oregon Inc. ground production at T6 to a halt.

The longshoremen argued that ICTSI was failing to comply with a long-held labor agreement with the Pacific Maritime Association by assigning two jobs plugging, unplugging and monitoring refrigerated containers to electricians.

ICTSI argued that it was bound by its lease agreement with the Port of Portland that called for handing that work to the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers.

The National Labor Relations Board successfully argued that the longshoremen had waged intentional work slowdowns that brought production at T6 to a near standstill. Last month, U.S. District Judge Michael Simon issued a preliminary injunction that prohibits the longshoremen from intentional work slowdowns.

While opponents argued that the longshore union's actions are what caused the carriers to divert away from Portland, the ILWU affixed the blame to ICTSI. The ocean carriers, like ICTSI, are members of the Pacific Maritime Association, a collective bargaining unit that represents West Coast port employers.

"The carriers who left Portland did so after demanding that ICTSI hire longshore workers as required by their contract," Leal Sundet, coast committeeman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said earlier this month. "When ICTSI refused to follow the contract, the carriers left and went to terminals that were in compliance."

ICTSI, the port, and the electricians union agreed to cede the work to the longshoremen while the issue works its way through separate proceedings overseen by the NLRB.

Because of those agreements, the port on Wednesday said it has "every reason to expect that the return of the Hanjin service will coincide with a productive and positive terminal experience."

Erik Siemers
Hanjin to Resume Portland Container Service Saturday
Portland Business Journal, August 1, 2012

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