Molly Harbarger, February 10, 2015, Oregonian
A docking schedule from Hanjin Shipping Co. shows that the Portland of Portland’s biggest marine customer might soon stop sending ships to Terminal 6.
Hanjin carries cargo for four companies: Evergreen, “K” Lines, Yang Ming and Cosco. A Hanjin executive recently sent notice of a new tentative long-range schedule to notify each of them that the ships will no longer pick up cargo to deliver in Portland, according to documents obtained by The Oregonian/OregonLive. The last ship on the new schedule bound for Portland is scheduled to arrive March 4.
Korea-based Hanjin already announced that some boats would skip Portland and unload cargo in Seattle even before March 4. But, a total drop means Hanjin won’t take on cargo from Asia meant for the Port of Portland — or Portland-loaded cargo meant for Asia.
Hanjin is the Port of Portland container terminal’s biggest customer, comprising 65 to 80 percent of the ships that do business at the terminal. It is also the ninth-largest shipping company in the world.
Hanjin did not officially respond for comment. Shippers say the company is not responding to their calls to confirm or deny the change, either.
Hapag-Lloyd, a German company, makes up about 25 percent of Terminal 6’s business. Westwood Shipping is the third-largest Port of Portland customer, but sends few ships.
Losing Hanjin would be a major blow to the port’s work. Major Northwest companies, such as Fred Meyer and Columbia Sportswear, use the line.
The drop in business could also decrease hours for about 550 longshoremen who work in Portland.
Hanjin could be using the threat of dropping Portland from its schedule to force the port operator, ICTSI Oregon, to fix the labor unrest that is forcing boats to wait for days to unload. The company said it would drop Portland in 2013, but eventually decided to stay.
ICTSI Oregon is part of the Pacific Maritime Association, a coalition with 28 other West Coast port operators who are negotiating a new contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The port operators association has accused the dock workers of slowing down work to the point that they are incapacitating normal port activities.
ICTSI did not return requests for comment.
In Portland, the larger contract dispute is layered on years of tension between longshoremen and ICTSI Oregon, the local port operator.
A Hanjin Copenhagen ship waited four days to unload in Portland. Friday, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers stopped work to demonstrate a grievance against ICTSI for past incidents. Over the weekend, the Pacific Maritime Association called off work, saying the longshoremen weren’t doing enough to justify paying then. Monday, the local longshore workers again demonstrated with a work stoppage.
Tuesday, longshoremen started unloading the Hanjin vessel at Terminal 6.