West Coast Ports Gridlock

“West Coast ports ‘approaching complete gridlock”

Despite presence of federal mediator ‘no further agreements have been reached.’

   The Pacific Maritime Association, which is representing management in contract talks with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said Monday that “more than two months of ILWU-staged slowdowns… have methodically reduced terminal productivity at the five largest ports on the West Coast.”    “Operations are approaching complete gridlock,” PMA added.    “Since late October 2014, the ILWU has crippled what were fully productive terminals in the Pacific Northwest and Oakland, and exacerbated a difficult congestion issue at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach by intentionally withholding dozens of essential skilled workers each shift for the past 10 weeks,” the association said.

LA-LB Container Ship Backup at 2-Year High

Its being reported today that….

LA-Long Beach container ship backup reaches 2-year high

Twelve container ships were anchored in the waters off the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach this morning, the most waiting at one time in San Pedro Bay in two years, surpassing the previous record set on Oct. 26 as congestion continues to crush the largest container gateway in the Americas.

LAX-LB and NY-NJ Ports Still Plagued by Congestion

    Journal of Commerce, 10/17/14

Congestion at large U.S. ports is generating increased complaints by truckers and shippers about demurrage penalties for late pickup of containers that can’t be removed from gridlocked marine terminals. The problem is most acute at the two largest U.S. container gateways, Los Angeles-Long Beach and New York-New Jersey, both of which are struggling to deal with bigger ships, rising volumes and chassis supply. Senior Editors Bill Mongelluzzo and Joseph Bonney reporting.

FMC Issues Port Congestion/Surcharge Advisory

The Federal Maritime Commission Newsroom

Possible Port Congestion Surcharges Industry Advisory

May 29, 2014

The Federal Maritime Commission has received numerous informal inquiries in relation to certain congestion surcharges that have been announced in tariff rules required to be published under the Shipping Act of 1984, as revised by the Ocean Shipping Reform Act (1998) and the Commission’s regulations at 46 CFR Part 520. This Industry Advisory is issued in order to respond to those inquiries.

Unless done pursuant to a waiver or exemption, any tariff rule (including surcharges) of a common carrier that results in an increased cost to a shipper may not be effective earlier than 30 days after publication. 46 U.S.C. § 40501(e); 46 CFR § 520.8.

The Shipping Act and the Commission’s regulations require that the rules applicable to any given shipment shall be those in effect on the date the cargo is received by the common carrier or its agent. 46 CFR § 520.7. Thus, if any cargo-related disruption were to occur at a port after cargo has been tendered by a shipper, a carrier may only lawfully charge the rates in effect on the day the cargo is tendered. These regulations apply both to import and export cargo.

While it may seem like only yesterday that a strike by East Coast and Gulf Coast dockworkers was averted with the signing of a new labor contract, more labor trouble at the waterfront is on the horizon.

This year, it involves West Coast dockworkers, whose six-year contract expires June 30. The workers, who are represented by the International Long shore and Warehouse Union, handle cargo at 29 ports in California, Oregon and Washington. Many US importers are a bit nervous that a strike or lockout will play havoc with container shipments.

Importers who use West Coast ports should act quickly to reserve space on ships that sail through the Panama Canal or Suez Canal and stop at ports along the East Coast or Gulf of Mexico. That would give them a backup plan to get their goods to the U.S. in the event of a work stoppage, but there could still be shipping delays because those ports could become backlogged.

A key issue in this year’s talks could be health insurance, which currently costs union members and retirees nothing and features policies that have no in-network deductibles and cover 100% of virtually all medical bills.

Such policies are classified as “Cadillac plans” by the Affordable Health Care Act, and a portion of the employer-paid premiums would be considered taxable income for workers. As a result, observers say the ILWU likely will want the plans to be restructured to avoid the tax — or insist that PMA members pay the tax for them.


US Imports Jump 15%

U.S. containerized import volume jumped 15.1 percent year-over-year in March 2014, the largest increase in 13 months, according to advance figures from PIERS, the data division of JOC Group Inc., dated 15 April 2014 by Journal of Commerce

Truckers Strike to Protest Port Delays

Truck drivers at Port Metro Vancouver carried out their threat to go on strike to protest extensive delays at marine terminals that the truckers say are making their economic situation intolerable. Journal of Commerce 11 March 2014

Customs Issuing ISF Penalties

US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) recently announced its intent to begin issuing liquidated damages against importers and carriers for non-compliance with the ISF (Importer Security Filing) requirements effective from July 9, 2013.  Liquidated damages may be issued in the amount of $5,000/violation.  In addition to issuing monetary penalties, CBP will increase cargo exams and the use of manifest holds for “No ISF on File”.

If you are an a importer experiencing late or inaccurate filings, it is very important to increase  your diligence in complying with processing timely, accurate and complete ISF filings.   We are here to help…please contact Lindsay at 781-961-3540 for assistance!


Government Military Sub-Contract Awarded

Unitrans is now a transport sub-contractor to the US Army and Navy Services.  We provide the transportation of military machinery to domestic military defense installations via domestic trucking and through imports from the UK.  The domestic machinery is staged at the military installations for the delivery to war zones.  The military awarded Unitrans as a sub-contractor over other competitors due to their satisfaction with the personalized customer service and detailed follow-up that Unitrans provides.

Third Party Outsource Capabilities

Unitrans is a full service third party outsourcing agent.  Our business supports the importing, warehousing, and fulfillment of local businesses that don’t have the space, time, or staff to operate their own backend services.  We have clients that sell their products on ecommerce websites and outsource the fulfillment of their products to us.  Examples are a local footwear retailer, a large international electronics supplier, and a well known paper goods manufacturer.