Shipping Companies Dismiss Port of Charleston Leatherman Terminal Over Labor Dispute and Lawsuit | Business
Shipping companies refuse to use the state’s port authority’s new Leatherman terminal until a labor dispute involving the union that represents waterfront workers is resolved, and the disruption could have serious consequences. long-term impact on the operations of the Port of Charleston.
Container ships operated by Ocean Alliance and The Alliance – consortia that account for around 45% of SPA’s revenue – will now be redirected to the Wando Welch terminal in Mount Pleasant. The shipping lines requested the ruling after the International Longshoremen Association filed a $ 200 million lawsuit against Hapag-Lloyd and the U.S. Maritime Alliance for sending a ship to Leatherman last month in alleged breach of the ship’s contract. union to provide all labor for the ship.
Hapag-Lloyd declined to comment. The US Maritime Alliance negotiates labor for shipping companies that use US ports.
The lawsuit was filed even though ILA leaders agreed to let the $ 2 billion Leatherman operate normally until the dispute is resolved.
In a written statement issued on May 4, the SPA said “the lawsuit is having its intended effect” as shipping companies “are intimidated to return to the Wando terminal or divert these ships” to other ports in the Wando region. the South Atlantic.
An ILA spokesperson did not respond to a request for comment on May 5.
The dispute is over who will operate ship-to-shore cranes and other heavy-lift equipment at the Hugh K. Leatherman Terminal, which opened its first phase in March at the former North Charleston Naval Base.
The ILA said a 2013 amendment to its contract with shipping companies called on union members to operate the equipment in any new terminal that opens along the eastern or gulf coasts. The SPA claims that Leatherman is not new as it was first licensed in 2007 and that the ILA’s interference in operations there amounts to an illegal boycott of the site by a third party.
SPA workers, who are government employees, operate cranes at other Charleston container terminals while ILA members help move cargo.
The SPA filed charges against the union in January and an administrative judge was supposed to hear the case on May 4. The hearing date was postponed to June as the shipping agency filed additional complaints with the NLRB regarding the lawsuit.
Leatherman had handled five container ships before the shipping lines decided to stop using the site. The most recent vessel to visit the terminal is the Liberian-flagged Agio Minas, which docked on May 5 and is not a member of the alliances refusing to use the site. The SPA’s online vessel schedule shows that two more vessels are expected to visit the terminal within the next 15 days.
The COSCO Shipping Rose and a CMA CGM vessel were the first vessels to be re-routed from Leatherman to Wando Welch last week. Yang Ming Warranty and COSCO Hope – two of the largest ships calling at the port, both members of the alliance – will also be re-routed when they arrive later this month.
The SPA said that diverting ships from the new terminal “is not a sustainable solution, but in the short term it will help mitigate the damage caused by illegal union tactics and ensure the continuity of service to which our customers have come. regulars while additional protections are sought in the course of legal proceedings. “
Leatherman opened amid an unprecedented freight boom, with the coronavirus pandemic pushing consumers to spend more money on imported goods – especially with online retailers – and less on services such as restaurant meals and vacations. The Port of Charleston set an all-time high in March with 248,796 20-foot equivalent freight containers passing through its terminals.
This kind of growth and Leatherman’s future will be shaped by the outcome of the labor dispute, which could drag on for months on end, as the administrative judge’s ruling at some point after the June hearing could make the subject of an appeal.
The ILA, in its lawsuit against Hapag-Lloyd, said it suffered “massive damage” as a result of the SPA’s decision to operate heavy transport equipment at the terminal. The union added that its members “have lost job opportunities, suffered lost wages and benefits, thereby also depriving the ILA of membership dues.”
The SPA said that a final decision in favor of the ILA would put the Port of Charleston “at a competitive disadvantage in our region because none of our container line customers would use the terminal, which goes to the extreme. ‘Defeats the very goal of building a port infrastructure in support of South Carolina’s supply chain and maritime community. “
Reach David Wren at 843-937-5550 or on Twitter at @David_Wren_