Port Votes to Offer
by Suzanne Stevens
Port of Portland commissioners have approved a plan designed to keep ships sailing into Portland amidst labor uncertainty.
Commissioners voted 7 to 2 Wednesday to approve the Container Carrier Incentive Program, in which the port will pay $10 per container to carriers calling Portland. Total payments are capped at $1 million and the program expires in December.
The port said the move is necessary to offset expected cost increases from International Container Terminal Services Inc., which operates Terminal 6. ICTSI is expected to raise rates due to a continued slowdown of production at T6 related to a dispute with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union.
In an emailed statement, the ILWU said ICTSI has "mismanaged operations and replaced a positive work environment with a hostile one. Now ICTSI is demanding that the Port squander public resources to entice the carriers to come to Portland." The union also said that ICTSI and port are "scapegoating" workers for productivity issues that are "beyond workers' control."
Next month, port commissioners will consider a plan to rebate portions of ICTSI's lease payments to help offset losses related to the labor slowdown.
Similar initiatives were approved last summer, when ICTSI's dispute with the longshore union stalled activity at T6 and led Hanjin and Hapag-Lloyd, two of the port's largest container carriers, to cease calling Portland.
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