The governor of Oregon is once again getting involved in problems at the Port of Portland’s container terminal, Terminal 6, operated by International Container Terminal Services Inc. (ICTSI).
Last December, Gov. John Kitzhaber intervened in a dispute between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers over which union had jurisdiction over jobs connecting and disconnecting refrigerated containers at Terminal 6.
Earlier this week, Kitzhaber wrote to Bill Wyatt, executive director of the Port of Portland
, that he was "dismayed to see that recent production levels at Terminal 6 continue to be below historical averages."
The Portland Oregonian
reported earlier this week that some truckers were complaining of waits of seven hours to enter the terminal
"ILWU insists the productivity challenges are in large part due to equipment issues, with machinery being 'substandard and inoperable,'' said Kitzhaber, citing an email from the union. "Others have suggested that the equipment issues are being orchestrated by the ILWU."
Kitzhaber told Wyatt, "I'm not in a position to make an immediate judgment on these allegations. However, I want the circular debate about machinery and equipment resolved."
He asked the port to seek an "immediate independent review" of equipment issues.
Josh Thomas, a spokesman for the port, said the port is in the process of conducting an independent review and hiring a consultant who will look at all aspects of the operations at the container terminal, including the condition of and maintenance of equipment, staffing levels, and productivity at the terminal.
"We are in full agreement with the frustrations we are hearing from truckers and shippers, and we will be following the governor’s directive to get some answers, because it is a concerning problem when we can’t get by these matters. Regardless of the cause, it is impacting regular business operations," Thomas said.
The problems at the Port of Portland come as the Korean container shipping line Hanjin, which accounts for 78 percent of Portland's container traffic, has said it plans to drop one of its four Pacific Northwest port calls
. In addition to Portland, the line calls Seattle as well as Vancouver and Prince Rupert in British Columbia.