Southern California: more records broken as vessels at-anchor reaches triple figures

Triple figures is worth reporting, even though we’ve been hearing about this problem for a long time now. And it seems no one will put up the money to do something about it.

Opening terminals to 24 hour operation would clearly improve things. It would not be a total solution, because the drayage trucks and warehouses, and container flows and availability, would still need to be coordinated. But it would be a start.

But 24 hour operation for terminals means more longshoremen and staff would need to be employed. Terminals will not be willing to hire these new longshoremen as union workers, because they don’t see a long-term need for them. When the rush abates, they can’t fire them readily.

It’s a similar story for drayage, though they have more flexibility, with the ability to use owner-operators if they can get them. But with the driver shortage, this kind of transport is one of the hardest hit– drayage carriers have been so ready to alter contracts for delivery and pickup of cargo and chassis that drivers don’t want to do this work. They’d rather be doing construction work.

The situation with warehouses is similar. Keeping a warehouse open for extended hours to be sure trucks can get in and out requires more staffing, and the firms don’t want to put out the money. Warehouse workers are often on 90-day contract time frames; many these days are supplied by temp agencies rather than the warehouse operator. The warehouse operator would need to commit to a much larger workforce, and on overtime at that, to handle extended hour deliveries.

I am starting to think it all comes down to businesses not wanting to extend their labor requirements. People don’t want to give work to people, or institutions and rgulations are now flexible enough to allow people to go to work and get the job done.

It’s more than just jawboning the port authorities, who have little to say about their terminals’ operations or labor practices, and almost no influence. Ports themselves have no leverage except as a contract for port spavce comes up for renewal. And most are nmany year contracts. That’s the dilemma of current port governance practice.

19 October 2021 Jack Donnelly Ports and Terminals, Shipping Lines

Southern California: more records broken as vessels at-anchor reaches triple figures – Port Technology International

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