What’s wrong with this picture?

Here’s the Top Story as it appeared on Monday, October 21st, in Cargo Business:

“Hanjin Shipping announced it will stop its weekly service to the Port of Portland in January 2014, ending 20 years of service to Northwest importers and exporters. The port’s biggest trans-Pacific container carrier confirmed Friday it is ending its service due to the high cost of doing business with the port. It will be a major blow to the regional economy, forcing importers and exporters to pay more to transport containers by truck to and from the Port of Seattle. The departure of Hanjin will also be hard on Portland dockworkers, terminating the $ 250,000 weekly payroll for those who load and unload Hanjin ships at Terminal 6.

“Jeff McEwen, Hanjin’s Portland manager, said container handling costs and low longshore labor productivity combined to make Portland too expensive. ‘The actual charges have substantially increased, and when productivity doesn’t meet our norms, ‘ McEwen said, ‘ the cost goes up even more.’

“Portland has always been an expensive port, since shipping lines must hire pilots to bring their vessels 100 miles up the Columbia River for relatively low container volumes. An ongoing longshore labor dispute and higher terminal charges have also impacted Hanjin, which has more than $ 100 million this year and is struggling to cut costs in an industry plagued with overcapacity and low rates.

“Elvis Ganda, chief executive officer of terminal operator ICTSI Oregon, blamed the International Longshore and Warehouse Union in a statement emailed to the Oregonian. The most recent Hanjin-ICTSI contract expired Dec. 31. ‘The ILWU’s tactic of intentionally suppressing productivity at Terminal 6 to well below pre-labor dispute levels, resulting in increased costs, made this issue an important factor in Hanjin’s decision,’ Ganda said.

“But the ILWU issued a statement saying ICTSI was trying to blame others for its ‘failed business model.’ The union said ICTSI tried in contract negotiations to increase rates charged to Hanjin, while insisting that workers speed up and abandon longstanding work practices. ‘ICTSI intransigence in its negotiations with Hanjin is the reason for Hanjin’s decision to leave Portland,’ the union statement said.

“Port of Portland managers said Friday the decision may not be final, and pledged to do what they could to retain Hanjin or find a replacement. ‘They have reached out to us,’ said Sam Ruda, Port of Portland director of marine and industrial development. ‘Their senior vice president of sales, marketing and operations wants to come out here within the next two weeks and certainly talk to the port and ICTSI.'” –

Here’s what’s wrong with this picture: Conventional terminal operations are primitive and costly, and inevitably lead to disagreements between management and labor. We can fix all that.