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LA/LB Ports: New chassis pool to help clear cargo backlog

Monday, March 2nd, 2015
March 1, 2015.  A significant backlog of container ships awaits unlading at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, visible from over 50 miles away in southern Orange County, CA.  ® 2015 Customs Now, Inc.

March 1, 2015. A significant backlog of container ships awaits unlading at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, visible from over 50 miles away in southern Orange County, CA. ® 2015 Customs Now, Inc.

While extraordinary congestion from the West Coast port labor dispute remains at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, key stakeholders have taken a major step forward to address the backlog.

As reported today in Transport Topics, three of the ports’ largest intermodal chassis operators have created a chassis pool that “allows truckers to use equipment from any of the pools, instead of having to find, or wait for, a chassis from one of the individual pool operators.”

A chassis shortage was a weighty area of contention in the labor dispute, and the establishment of the pool is critical to address the estimated half million containers that continue to clog the port complex.

JOC: Most shippers to divert cargo away from US West Coast ports

Thursday, February 26th, 2015
 © 2015 Journal of Commerce

© 2015 Journal of Commerce



This week, the Journal of Commerce surveyed about 140 shippers to gauge sentiments on the recent West Coast port congestion debacle.  Despite tentative settlement of the labor dispute that resulted in the massive cargo backups at these ports, nearly two-thirds of respondents indicated their intention to redirect shipments away from the West Coast, primarily to the US East and Gulf Coasts, as well as the Port of Vancouver in Canada.

While the majority of shippers specified that they would divert 10 to 30% of their cargo, nearly an equal number signaled that they plan to reroute 31% or more.

Meanwhile, JOC also reports that retailers, a key driver of imports of US  West Coast ports, expect shipping delays, product shortages and increased trucking rates caused by the port slowdown to adversely affect business for weeks.  Perhaps this development has had some effect on the survey results.  (JOC site registration required).

See West Coast port congestion from the sky

Thursday, February 12th, 2015
© 2015 Michael Kelley

© 2015 Michael Kelley

Check out the bird’s eye view of the congestion at the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, captured by aerial photographer, Michael Kelley.  Kelley noted that he saw “30 to 40 ships” waiting to discharge their cargo, the result of the ongoing US West Coast port labor dispute.

Just over two weeks ago, it appeared that the Pacific Maritime Association and International Longshore and Warehouse Union had reached agreement on a major issue — management of truck chassis —  a key point of contention in the dispute.

That consensus, however, seems to have evaporated as shipping lines have announced that they will suspend the loading and unloading of cargo ships over the next four days.  The move is an attempt to avoid paying holiday/weekend overtime wages, a response to a perceived “chronic” work slowdown by dockworkers, which their union disputes.


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.