Port of Oakland says no to business as usual

Press Release

For Immediate Release
March 4, 2015

Port of Oakland says no to business as usual

Change needed as West Coast recovery begins


Long Beach, Calif. – March 4, 2015 – Disruptions from waterfront labor negotiations have waned, but don’t expect a return to business as usual at West Coast ports. “The old methods won’t work any longer,” Port of Oakland executive director Chris Lytle said here today.

Addressing shippers and other stakeholders at a meeting of The Waterfront Coalition, Mr. Lytle said his industry must change, “We can’t go back to the way it was; that’s not acceptable,” he told an audience that included Federal Maritime Commission Chairman Mario Cordero. “We have to do a better job for our customers if we want to hold onto our market share.”

Mr. Lytle joined other West Coast port executives in addressing the aftermath of nine months of labor-management disputes on the waterfront. The longshore contract impasse ended February 20 with a tentative settlement of a new contract for ports from Seattle to San Diego.

Ports now are digging out from a cargo backlog that has hampered retailers and other shippers in the US. Mr. Lytle called for a number of improvements to reshape his industry as recovery from the labor dispute gets underway. They include:

  • Reduced transaction times for harbor truck drivers who can spend more than two hours inside marine terminals picking up cargo;
  • Better measurement of terminal operating performance; and
  • A new labor-management relationship.

“We need a new mindset for negotiating,” Mr. Lytle said. “What we just went through was the worst experience in my professional career. I don’t want to go through that again.”

Mr. Lytle said there is an opportunity for ports to play a greater role in labor relations by working with labor and management for greater collaboration.

The Port of Oakland does not hire longshore labor. That is the role of terminal operators and shipping lines in the Pacific Maritime Association. Nevertheless, Mr. Lytle said the port will meet with local labor officials and encourage them to take part in talks with shippers who rely on the Port of Oakland to move their cargo. “Better understanding of shipper needs can lead to better outcomes in future bargaining,” he added.

Mr. Lytle said the port will work with terminal operators to develop uniform methods of collecting and distributing performance data. Shippers and the truck drivers they hire have asked for the information to streamline the pick up and delivery of containerized cargo.

“The port will also work with leasing companies to improve the availability of truck chassis,” Mr. Lytle added. These are the trailers used to haul cargo containers over the road. Chassis have been in short supply at all West Coast sports during the recent cargo build up. Mr. Lytle indicated that the Port will work toward a common pool of the trailers to prevent shortages from recurring.

About the Port of Oakland:
The Port of Oakland oversees the Oakland seaport and Oakland International Airport. The Port’s jurisdiction includes 20 miles of waterfront from the Bay Bridge through Oakland International Airport. The Oakland seaport is the fifth busiest container port in the U.S.; Oakland International Airport is the second largest San Francisco Bay Area airport offering over 300 daily passenger and cargo flights; and the Port’s real estate includes commercial developments such as Jack London Square and hundreds of acres of public parks and conservation areas. Together, through Port operations and those of its tenants and users, the Port supports more than 73,000 jobs in the region and nearly 827,000 jobs across the United States. The Port of Oakland was established in 1927 and is an independent department of the City of Oakland. Connect with the Port of Oakland and Oakland International Airport through Facebook, or with the Port on Twitter, YouTube, and at www.portofoakland.com.

Media Contact:

Robert Bernardo
Communications Manager
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1401
Click here to contact Robert Bernardo

Marilyn Sandifur
Port Spokesperson
Port of Oakland
(510) 627-1193
Click here to contact Marilyn Sandifur

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