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Progress on chassis in West Coast labor dispute

Tuesday, January 27th, 2015

chassisAfter months of wrangling by longshoremen and their employers in a complicated labor dispute at West Coast ports, representative from both sides indicated that a tentative agreement has been reached on the key issue of chassis.

These trailers, which move cargo containers to and from ships at ports, have been in short supply, primarily due to ocean carriers divesting interest in the chassis and a lack of a cohesive backup plan for their management and maintenance.

According to the Long Beach Press-Telegram, both sides – the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, with 20,000 dockworkers, and the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents employers at 29 ports – have offered little detail on the chassis accord, but are hopeful it can pave the way for a final agreement, and eliminate the port congestion caused by the dispute.



Shippers: December 26 deemed a federal holiday

Friday, December 12th, 2014

december26Per CSMS #14-000631, President Obama signed an Executive Order designating Friday, December 26, 2014 as a federal holiday.  US Customs advises entry summary filers as follows:

Statements that are due on Friday, December 26, 2014 may be paid electronically prior to December 29, 2014.  Entry summaries and statements due on Friday, December 26, 2014 may be presented and paid on Monday, December 29, 2014, without penalty.




“Made in the USA”? Not with that foreign zipper

Tuesday, November 11th, 2014



US apparel companies beware.   A federal judge recently ruled, in the case of Paz v. AG Adriano Goldschmeid Inc. et al, that California’s “Made in the USA” labeling law is not pre-empted by federal apparel labeling laws and thus its rigorous standards for domestic labeling would apply in a class-action lawsuit alleging improper labeling.

As summed up by the law firm of Sandler, Travis & Rosenberg, P.A.,

U.S. apparel companies that use de minimis amounts of foreign-made components such as zippers or buttons in their garments were dealt a blow recently when a federal judge declined to throw out a class action lawsuit alleging that clothing labeled as “made in USA” is in violation of California’s strict false advertising law. The case will thus continue and could still result in settlements, damages or other expensive alternatives for affected companies.

This is not the first time that the California labeling law has been litigated.  See this article about recent cases on this topic (site registration may be required).



Port Congestion 101 – watch JOC video

Tuesday, October 28th, 2014

See Bill Mongeluzzo, West Coast Editor for the Journal of Commerce, describe the perfect storm of events that have caused the ongoing gridlock in the Los Angeles/Long Beach seaport, which has reverberated around ports nationwide.  Bill spoke at JOC’s Inland Distribution Conference.



Market pool for truck chassis in the works for Port of NY/NJ

Friday, September 26th, 2014
© Port Authority of NY & NJ

© Port Authority of NY & NJ


In follow up to last week’s post on addressing truck congestion at US ports, commentary in the print edition of American Shipper (September 2014) reveals that there is progress on this front on the East Coast.

In his piece entitled “Answer to New York/New Jersey’s chassis blues?”, Chris Dupin reports that a working group of the Port Authority of NY/NJ’s Port Productivity Task Force is attempting to implement the task force’s recommendations that the industry create a ‘market pool’ for chassis:

“The market pool would be a port-wide pool with interoperability, meaning chassis could be used to move boxes that come from any of the terminals of liner carriers in the port.  The pool would not set prices, nor collaborate about anything that has to do with commercial relationships with customers.  Members of the pool would still compete with each other, but the task force thought a market pool could help solve some of the problems the port experienced with a lack of equipment and imbalance last year.”

Issues such as who will run the market pool are still in discussion.



Forum: reducing truck congestion at US ports

Friday, September 19th, 2014


Truck congestion — and the resulting frustration, delays and expense — unfortunately is on the rise at major US ports.  This week, as reported in California Apparel News, the Federal Maritime Commission hosted a forum with importers, truckers, brokers, freight forwarders, 3PLs and government officials at the Port of Los Angeles to discuss the root causes of this congestion and offer suggestions for improvement.

Identified causes:

  • Increased capacity of cargo ships — up to nearly triple — and resultant unlading time
  • Growth of global trade and container volume
  • Shortage of chassis at ports

Potential solutions:

  • Impose penalty fees on terminals that violate 90-minute turn times for cargo pick-up
  • Using an online appointment system for truckers to schedule pick-ups
  • Establishing a gray chassis fleet at ports for general use
  • Creating a “free-flow” system when unlading, facilitating access by truckers to specific, requested containers

The full article can be found here.




Key CBP leaders announced

Tuesday, September 16th, 2014

US Customs and Border Protection logoFrom last week’s CBP press release:

In an important next step in advancing U.S. Customs and Border Protection’s (CBP) Trade Transformation efforts, [CBP] Commissioner, R. Gil Kerlikowske announced selections for two key trade positions within CBP – Ms. Brenda Smith for the Senior Executive Service position of Assistant Commissioner, Office of International Trade, and Mr. Richard F. DiNucci for Executive Director of Cargo Conveyance and Security, Office of Field Operations.

Benchmark study: more importers are self-filing

Thursday, August 21st, 2014

american shipper 2American Shipper’s sixth annual Import Operations and Compliance Benchmarking Study has found an increase in the number of shippers who self-file customs entries:

  • The number of “systems-based” respondents (companies that use at least one application to facilitate their import functions) that outsource their customs filings decreased from 72% to 53% since last year
  • 24% of systems-based respondents self-file (direct file) customs entries, up 10% from last year
  • 23% of systems-based respondents use a combination of direct filing and outsourcing customs filings, also up 10% from 2013
  • Even “manual’ respondents (companies that use other technologies outside of import functions) are direct filing

The benchmarking study is available here (registration required).


O Canada, what have you done to our back-up plan?

Thursday, August 14th, 2014


US importers fearing a West Coast port strike have seen their contingency plans start to unravel.

According to the Journal of Commerce, although contract negotiations between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association continue, some importers have attempted to divert cargo to Canadian ports to avoid delays during peak season in case of labor disruptions.  Unfortunately, the Port of Vancouver has become overwhelmed by the increased volume, and in response, large carriers such as Hapag-Lloyd have announced that the cargo will now be discharged in US West Coast ports after all.

The full JOC article can be found here (site registration required).


Peak season trucking rate hikes predicted

Thursday, July 31st, 2014

truckAs the trade heads into peak season, the nation’s trucking industry is experiencing a critical shortage of over-the-road drivers, and shippers may be paying for it.  According to an article in the Journal of Commerce, the scarcity of drivers is so acute that Swift Transportation, the largest US truckload carrier, announced that it will dramatically increase driver salaries — and competitors are expected to follow suit.  Shipping rates are predicted to rise accordingly, by as much as 4-5% as estimated by Swift.

According to Mike Regan, who serves as advocacy chair for the shipper group NASSTRAC, “‘[t]here’s no question, rates are going to rise…. The challenge for trucking companies is creating a compensation structure that allows them to retain drivers drivers but still get the rates they need from shippers to basically justify higher wages.’”

Increase containerized import volume at US ports — driving up demand for truck transport — is also a factor in the predicted rate increase.

The full Journal of Commerce article is available here (site registration required).