According to multiple media outlets, terminal operator ICTSI Portland claims that crane productivity at the port has hit an all-time low, due to an escalation of "hard-timing" by members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU). The accusation stems from two years of hostility between ICTSI and Portland's ILWU locals, which originated with a dispute over the proper jurisdiction of two jobs handling refrigerated containers. Reportedly, the situation has only worsened since the expiration of the West Coast master labor contract between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).
“Since July 1 there has been an escalating of the incidents,” said Elvis Ganda, CEO of ICTSI, the only container terminal operator in Portland. Ganda went on to note that, before the jurisdictional issue arose in 2012, ILWU crane operators consistently maintained gross productivity of 24 container moves per hour and net productivity (i.e. excluding crane downtime) of 28 moves per hour. (In most U.S. ports,, net productivity of about 30 container moves per hour is considered solid.) Since the dispute, productivity has dropped from 20 gross moves per hour to 13 moves per hour (in July) to an estimated 7.5 mover per hour today.
Port executives remain worried that the marked drop in productivity will scare off major carriers, going so far as to institute a carrier incentive program that rewards those who maintain steady container volume to Portland. In 2013, Hanjin threatened to discontinue service to the port unless improvements were instituted. “We are making every effort to retain Hanjin as a carrier," commented port spokesperson Josh Thomas, "and along with our other carriers, they have expected productivity to improve. Sustained improvements remain to be seen. This certainly does not help with retention and growth of service."
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