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Hapag-Lloyd may Join Hanjin in
Bypassing Portland Over Labor Dispute

by Erik Siemers
Portland Business Journal, June 21, 2012

(Ross William Hamilton) Terminal 6, usually stacked full of containers, has relatively few boxes waiting for shipping abroad, as steamship lines bypass Portland because of labor disputes. Port of Portland officials late Thursday said they expect German shipping company Hapag-Lloyd to also stop calling on Portland's lone container terminal until a labor dispute is resolved.

Hapag-Lloyd officials didn't return several calls to its Seattle and New Jersey offices seeking comment on Thursday.

If true, it would mean that Portland would lose service from both of the major carriers that call on the port weekly. South Korean carrier Hanjin announced earlier Thursday that it would cease calling on the port's Terminal 6.

Port officials have yet to get official word from Hapag-Lloyd like they did with Hanjin, which issued a notification to customers Thursday, said port spokesman Josh Thomas.

Bill Wyatt, the port's executive director, earlier this week said Hanjin handles 2,000 containers per week while Hapag-Lloyd handles around 500. The port also has yet to hear from Puyallup, Wash.-based Westwood Shipping Lines, which calls on the port monthly. Westwood officials also could not be reached for comment.

The source of the trouble is a contentious dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and terminal operator ICTSI Oregon Inc. over what union should have the rights to the two- to four-person-per-year job of plugging and unplugging refrigerated containers at the terminal.

ICTSI contends that it's bound by a terminal management lease with the Port of Portland that requires the work be done by the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers. The longshore union believes that ICTSI, as a member of the Pacific Maritime Association, is bound by a labor pact with the PMA dictating that the work goes to the ILWU.

U.S. District Court Judge Michael Simon will hold a hearing in Portland Friday afternoon on a pair of lawsuits related to the dispute. That includes a claim filed by the Seattle-based regional director of the National Labor Relations Board claiming the longshore union has been intentionally disrupting operations at T6.

Erik Siemers covers footwear and apparel, technology, energy, manufacturing and ports.
Hapag-Lloyd may Join Hanjin in Bypassing Portland Over Labor Dispute
Portland Business Journal, June 21, 2012

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