Searchable Goods Movement Timeline

Welcome to the METRANS Goods Movement Timeline. This is a searchable timeline of activities tied to goods movement, logistics and international trade based upon items from the popular press.

Given our location and the importance of this region as an international trade gateway, many of the entries pertain to Southern California. We do however draw from state and national press as well. Some articles' links may have expired, or you may have to pay a fee or register on the Web site where they originally appeared to access the complete article. Our goal however is to provide the researcher with enough information to track significant events over time as they have occurred in key areas like legislation, finance, and security.

This timeline grew out of timelines initially developed for METRANS research projects in the area of goods movement. Earlier entries (before 2005) were therefore not prepared with a searchable database in mind and will be less detailed. We hope, however, that they remain a useful resource.

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Mar 19, 2018

Chicago's Perfect Storm

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 Major delays are plaguing shippers and logistics providers in Chicago because of a perfect storm of winter weather, intermodal railyard delays, chassis shortages, and tighter truck capacity exacerbated by the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.

Although not limited to Chicago, the top US freight hub has been cited for the most severe gridlock and so much drayage demand that some motor carriers will not accept new customers until April.

Multiple trucking executives told The Journal of Commerce they are charging accessorial fees on some hauls and imposing $75 to $150 detention penalties after sitting one hour at an intermodal railyard.

“this is the most prolonged and sustained period of tightness in Chicago that I’ve ever seen; its unprecedented. But I think it may be the new normal,” said Phil Shook, director of intermodal at C.H. Robinson Worldwide.

“It is about as bad as we’ve ever seen it historically, outside of weather emergencies like blizzards,” said Clint Dvorak, managing director, Global North American at MIQ Logistics, which recently issued an alert to shippers about the delays.

Jason Hilsenbeck, president of Drayage.com, said clicks on his website from the Chicago metropolitan area have surged since the beginning of the year. During that time, his intermodal directory website generated more than 90,000 clicks. Per day, the average hovers between 2,000 and 3,000, indicating a significant interest to search his online directory of drayage providers serving Chicago.

 “When we had the labor problems in Los Angeles and Long Beach a few years ago, we started to hit 70,000 or 80,000 clicks over 60 days, but I’ve never seen this in Chicago except after blizzards,” Hilsenbeck said.

Trucking and logistics executives have expressed frustration at intermodal railyard operations since the beginning of the year, worried the slowdown will further alienate the driver pool.

Canadian National Railway in Harvey, Illinois, and Union Pacific Railroad’s four Chicago-area terminals, to a lesser extent, were identified as having multihour turn times in some cases, according ot the sources who spoke on the condition of anonymity.

In a statement, CN blamed the delays on the weather, driver shortages, and ELDs.

“We continue to work with our supply chain partners to manage traffic flows and alleviate the delays. We are working to secure more driver power in the Chicago area to increase terminal fluidity, and have encouraged carters to schedule appointments at off hours, such as nights and weekends,” the railway wrote.

The delays are happening as truckers contemplate whether to leave the industry ahead of the hard enforcement date of ELDs on April 1. Owner-operators fed up with the Chicago dray market may consider this the right time for a change.

“I would say 50 percent of the drivers or more are considering flipping to (over-the-road) to avoid the ramps. Owner-operators just get fed up and no longer want to do rail freight because of the time wasted at ramps. It’s a vicious circle,” said Susan Keldani, vice president of On Track Transportation in Illinois.

“You spend three hours getting the chassis and the container, and when you terminate, its another two hours. It’s leaving very little time for drivers,” added Kevin Lhotak, president of Reliable Transportation.

That is when there are even chassis available to take the container.

Tracy Davis, president of Acme Transportation Company, said truckers often arrive at railyards only to discover no available chassis or a small number of defective units.

“There may be 10 chassis one day, but when you go to pick it up, the person says it’s reserved or the chassis are red-tagged and cannot go out on the road,” Davis said.

Mediterranean Shipping Co. (MSC) sent a warning notice in early February to customers urging customers to promptly return equipment to alleviate the shortage.

“If there is not a drastic decrease in long dwelling equipment on the street in the coming days, we will have no choice but to enforce a ‘no chassis in, no chassis out’ policy at the rails and CYs in order to release any more equipment for loading,” the MSC notice said.

Consolidated Chassis Management pegged the utilization rate at 63 percent for the Chicago-Ohio Valley Consolidated Chassis Pool, including an ample supply near the CN Harvey Terminal.

Neither TRAC Intermodal or Direct ChassisLink INc. were available for comment at the time of this report.

Print Edition

 Major delays are plaguing shippers and logistics providers in Chicago because of a perfect storm of winter weather, intermodal railyard delays, chassis shortages, and tighter truck capacity exacerbated by the electronic logging device (ELD) mandate.

Although not limited to Chicago, the top US freight hub has been cited for the most severe gridlock and so much drayage demand that some motor carriers will not accept new customers until April.

Mar 19, 2018

Seeking team status - Teamsters union and drayagedrivers escalate actions in Long Beach-Los Angeles on misclassification issue

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The teamsters union is ramping up its efforts to have owner-operator truck drivers classified as employees. The union in late February enlisted the Long Beach City Council to join state and local efforts on the misclassification issue.

Drivers also filed a class-action lawsuit in Los Angeles against XPO Logistics and XPO Cartage, seeking penalties and back wages for hundreds of drivers, and asking the court to prevent further misclassification of XPO drivers.

Long Beach, the second-largest US container port, is an agency of the city. The council at its regularly scheduled meeting unanimously adopted a three-point recommendation from Mayor Robert Garcia to work with state and federal agencies that have jurisdiction over labor regulations to address harbor drayage issues.

In a general sense, the thrust of the Teamsters-backed initiative is to fix what the union calls a “broken system” of drayage and “misclassification of employees” at US ports. They cited port congestion, which reduces the earning potential of harbor truckers, and the inability of independent contract drivers to qualify for the same types of protections and benefits that employees usually have.

An attorney for harbor truckers in the class-action lawsuit, Julie Gutman Dickinson, said that although the workers in question drive for XPO Cartage at the ports, railyards, and distribution facilities in Southern California, the misclassification issue exists throughout the US. “It is a nationwide problem,” she said.

The class-action lawsuit filed in the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles charges that because drivers who shuttle containers between the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and area distribution centers and railyards are improperly classified as independent contractors, XPO fails to pay the drivers at least the minimum wage, as well as for missed meal breaks, business expenses involving the trucks and waiting time at cargo facilities. The attorneys did not have an exact number of drivers covered and damages that could be paid.

In a narrower sense, the Teamsters union wants owner-operators to be legally declared direct employees of the motor carriers and retailers that contract with them to haul containers to and from US ports. Union are prohibited from organizing independent contractors, but they are free under federal law to attempt organize employees.

The Port of Los Angeles, in its original clean-air plan 10 years ago, attempted to limit port access to trucks driven by employee drivers. In 2013, the US Supreme Court struck down the employee mandate as interference with interstate commerce laws.

Since then, the Teamsters have targeted individual motor carriers and, through legal challenges, attempted to demonstrate that the owner-operator drivers were misclassified and the companies exerted the same amount of control over them as if they were employees. The Teamsters or others who represented the drivers have won a number of cases.

However, those victories were achieved, on a case-by-case basic, and did not set precedent on the misclassification issue. Therefore, the Teamsters in recent years have pursued the legislative route in cities and states that are viewed as being labor-friendly. Because California is considered to be the friendliest of all, many of the efforts have taken place before state agencies such as the California Employment Development Department. The Teamsters and drivers have also won cases before the National Labor relations Board, and in recent years have won millions of dollars in fines and restitution.

The Long Beach decision calls for support of language in state and federal legislative agendas to improve working conditions in the harbor for truck drivers, a request to the city attorney to cooperate with the California attorney general for regulatory efforts, and a request to the Harbor Commission to hold hearings on truckers’ working conditions in the harbor.

The Harbor Trucking Association (HTA), which represents drayage companies in Los Angeles – Long Beach, supports freedom of choice for motor carriers. The HTA notes that some drayage companies have employee drivers, some contract with owner-operators, and some companies operate with both models.

Print Edition

The teamsters union is ramping up its efforts to have owner-operator truck drivers classified as employees. The union in late February enlisted the Long Beach City Council to join state and local efforts on the misclassification issue.

Drivers also filed a class-action lawsuit in Los Angeles against XPO Logistics and XPO Cartage, seeking penalties and back wages for hundreds of drivers, and asking the court to prevent further misclassification of XPO drivers.

Mar 05, 2018

Opportunity Knocks

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As container shipping has consolidated from 18 down to 11 east-west carriers during the past two years, it’s easy to say the industry is experiencing an inflection point and will look very different in the future.

The industry may look different, but that will be due to a revolution in technology, not to consolidation; the evidence so far is that consolidation has reduced the number of carriers but has not changed behaviors.

There is no evidence, for example, that markets are any less competitive. Carriers have returned to mega-ship ordering after a brief hiatus, and, as consultancy McKinsey controversially said in a recent white paper (that it quickly withdrew), overcapacity “is here to stay.”

But by stroke of historical luck, simultaneous to consolidation has come what some believe to be the next world-changing technology breakthrough, which is distributed ledgers or blockchain. Although it yet to happen and may tale years to implement, for the first time it’s possible to envision a path to significant reductions in the staggering costs associated with global trade.

That is because the concept of distributed ledgers can create the necessary level of trust – that is a big statement – among the dozens of individual parties that must interact as trade flows from origin to destination. It allows that interaction to occur with a collaborative Cloud-based environment not owned or controlled by any central party, “owned by everyone and no one,” as has often been said of the decentralized system underlying bitcoin.

A decentralized environment, where all parties involved in the movement of a container could interact, until now has been both the perfect solution and completely unachievable. None of the technology developed and deployed over decades – whether mainframes, email, EDI, the Cloud, transportation management systems (TMS), internet, AI, IoT, you name it – has created the collaborative environment the industry requires above all other solutions. The potential elimination of cost is so great – Maersk and IBM said in January that documentation costs alone amount to 20 percent of the cost of actual shipping – that despite the lack of progress there remains an insatiable hunger to see such a system implemented, if can be done right.

“Our desire is to get to a point where we’re all using the same platform,” George Goldman, the US president of Zim Integrated Shipping Services Co, said at the Georgia Foreign Trade Conference in early February.

“As an industry, we need to spend some time from a collaboration standpoint and really develop, for the good of the industry and to gain efficiencies, a common platform,” Greg Tuthill, chief operating officer of CMA CGM LLC, said at the Georgia Event.

Getting it done right is the challenge, and the key to that is neutrality. Unless the envisioned platform is truly neutral, with intermediaries able to profit from creating so-called on-ramps and off-ramps but no centralized authority controlling that platform itself, this is sadly a non-starter.

“We’re all sort of getting there separately now with different joint ventures, but my hope would be that we get to a point where we’re all using the same system,” Goldman said. Zim is collaborating with Wave, an Israeli startup, on a blockchain solution to digitizing bills of lading, (This will be presented at TPM on Monday afternoon.

A key question is whether the holy grail system will be the one to be created by a joint venture of Maersk and IBM, which in January announced plans to create a “global trade digitization platform built on open standards and designed for use by the entire global shipping ecosystem.”

Speaking to the key issue of neutrality, former Maersk US President Mike White, who will lead the joint venture, said at the Georgia event: “Our intent and aspiration is to have a completely open, neutral platform. We think that is critical.”

Without question; achieving neutrality and resulting buy-in will be the difference between the industry being able to seize this unique opportunity or not. The prize is so big that is the imperative that individual carriers see participation in a common platform as non-competitive. If just a narrow slice of the industry joins the environment, they may succeed in reducing some costs, but the overall result will be elimination of only a fraction of the costs that would be possible through universal adoption by carriers, forwarders, shippers, ports, and government agencies. The large number of Initial Coin Offerings in shipping is already pointing to a siloed future.

That is why this moment is so critical. Technology in shipping today is siloed, and the results are there for all to see: marginal, incremental, and unsatisfying levels of value achieved over decades.

“The transport and logistics industry has not yet undergone any significant transformation,” Maersk Group Chairman Jim Hagemann Snabe wrote in February.

How many times has it been said that nothing has changed since Malcom Mclean’s introduction of the container in the late 1950s? Isn’t it time the industry that revolutionized global trade more than 50 years ago do it all over again?

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As container shipping has consolidated from 18 down to 11 east-west carriers during the past two years, it’s easy to say the industry is experiencing an inflection point and will look very different in the future.

The industry may look different, but that will be due to a revolution in technology, not to consolidation; the evidence so far is that consolidation has reduced the number of carriers but has not changed behaviors.

Mar 05, 2018

Fraying the Cord

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The Trump Administration wants to reduce the amount of money importers must pay for using US ports, a move that would cut the amount of federal aid those ports get for dredging and jetty maintenance projects.

The US Congress ignored budget proposals from the Obama administration that would have cut annual port funding, and there’s a little chance legislators would have cut annual port funding, and there’s little chance legislators would change course, according to port analysts. The Trump administration’s proposal, however, is illuminating in that it seeks to shift the funding burden to ports and to the initial benefit of importers, even as the president rails against imports exacerbating the US trade deficit. Port would then push for higher tariffs from container lines, which would then try to pass on the additional costs to shippers.

In Trump’s proposed $4.8 billion civil works budget for the US Army Corps of Engineers, the administration proposes reducing “the Harbor Maintenance Tax rate to better align estimated annual receipts from this tax with recent appropriation levels for eligible expenditures from” the HMT fund. The administration didn’t disclose how much the current tax rate of 0.125 percent should be reduced. The tax adds approximately $109 per FEU, according to a 2012 Federal Maritime Commission study.

“Reducing this tax would provide greater flexibility for individual ports to establish appropriate fee structures for services they provide, in order to help finance their capital and operating expenses on their own,” the Trump administration stated in the budget plan.

Under Trump’s budget, the administration recommends that funding set aside for port maintenance work be reduced to $959 million in fiscal 2019, which ends Sept. 30, 2019. If congressional appropriators follow the administration’s guidance, US ports would receive $378 million less than they are set to receive in fiscal 2018 and $146 million less than they got in fiscal 2017.

Reducing the HMT would run counter to a well-maintained port system and the broader push to reform the trust fund by using more of it toward its intended purpose of maintaining ports instead of plugging holes in the general fund, according to the American Association of Port Authorities. Under the Water Resources Reform Development Act (WRRDA), signed into law in 2014, Congress encouraged appropriators to give a larger share of HMT collected back to ports, with a goal of having all money spent on port maintenance projects by fiscal 2025. Before WRRDA, ports received only about half of collected harbor maintenance taxes. In fiscal 20117, US ports got about 75 percent, or $1.14 billion, of the nearly $1.5 billion collected. If Congress were to follow Trump’s guidance for fiscal 2019, US ports would receive only 64 percent of the taxes collected.

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The Trump Administration wants to reduce the amount of money importers must pay for using US ports, a move that would cut the amount of federal aid those ports get for dredging and jetty maintenance projects.

Mar 05, 2018

The high cost of zero emissions

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Does California want international trade, or is the state pursuing a policy to drive cargo and jobs away?

That’s a question marine terminal operators and shipping lines are asking with increased regularity. I’m sure other players in California’s supply chain are having similar conversations.

With the world’s most stringent environmental regulations, California state, regional, and local agencies are proposing new, overlapping regulations that will drive trade and jobs away from California. If that’s the goal of these regulators, then they are sending a strong signal. If not, then these agencies need to step back and develop more holistic plans that continue the environmental progress without making our ports unwelcoming.

The move to zero emissions is a laudable goal, but it’s one constrained by the lack of available funding, a permitting process that takes more than a dozen years to complete, and the lack of commercially available technology and/or equipment that makes economic sense.

Let’s start with the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Both recently adopted a Clean Air Action Plan (CAAP) to require a transition to zero emissions by 2030, without a plan for financing or facilitating such a massive undertaking. The cost of the ports’ and industry’s past efforts to reduce 96 percent of diesel particulate matter from trucks and marine terminal equipment was approximately $2 billion. The ports also have pointed out that it would cost more than $14 billion to eliminate the remaining 4 percent – and according to the ports, these costs would “…place an enormous financial burden on the ports and the goods movement industry.”

In addition to the CAAP (local regulation), the South Coast Air Quality Management District (regional regulation) is proceeding with plans to adopt Indirect Source Rules (ISR) for marine terminals, warehouses, and distribution centers. ISRs hold facilities operationally and legally responsible for emissions from third-party members of the logistics chain (e.g., marine terminals or warehouses will be responsible for the trucks that pick up or drop off cargo). The facility would be subjected to fines and/or limits and caps on business activity.

In the case of marine terminals, an ISR could mean turning away trucks, trains, and ships (with it cargo and jobs) when government-imposed emissions levels are met. Even zero-emission terminals will be fined for emissions from the customers of their customers, companies over which the terminal exerts no control. ISRs represent a backhanded way for regulatory agency to exercise jurisdiction over emission sources that they have no mandate to control.

At the state level, unlick any other industrial sector in California, the California Air Resources Board (CARB) staff is proposing that marine terminals spend billions of dollar to convert their facilities to zero emissions starting in 2022, to be completed by 2031/ The proposal lacks any mention of flexibility or impact to port competitiveness. Further, the compliance time is unrealistic because permits for major projects such as transformation of a marine terminal take years to obtain under the California Environmental Quality Act.

To make matters worse, when combined with an ISR as proposed by the SCAQMD, the CARB proposal would place marine terminals in a position of spending billions on zero-emission technology but would ten subject the terminals to fines, penalties, or operational limits for the air emissions from trucks, trains, and ships – sources they don’t control.

Absent a counterbalancing program of support for California’s ports and supply chain, overlapping regulatory efforts by multiple levels of government to make California’s ports and supply chain, overlapping regulatory efforts by multiple levels of government to make California’s supply chain zero emission will severely constrain everyone who handles or receives domestic and international freight, including warehouses, distribution facilities, airports, ports, trucks, railroads, manufacturers, exporters, importers, and retailers. And if cargo is diverted from West Coast ports to other trade gateways in order to avoid increased costs, California’s regulators will ironically increase greenhouse gas emissions, as a recent study has shown.

Lost in the multijurisdictional regulatory quest to zero emissions is the impact these mandates will have on jobs (one in nine Southern California jobs) and California logistics companies that contribute billions of dollars to the California economy. Having these conversations after the jobs are gone and the cargo has moved to other ports of call is too late.

Print Edition

Does California want international trade, or is the state pursuing a policy to drive cargo and jobs away?

That’s a question marine terminal operators and shipping lines are asking with increased regularity. I’m sure other players in California’s supply chain are having similar conversations.

Mar 07, 2018

Self-driving trucks are on the road in Arizona

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SAN FRANISCO – Uber has been sending self-driving trucks on delivery runs across Arizona since November, the first step in what promises to be a freight transportation  revolution that could radically reshape the jobs of long-haul truckers.

After testing its technology earlier in 2017, Uber began contracting with trucking companies to use its own autonomous Volvo big rigs to take over loads as they traverse the state, it disclosed.

In Uber’s current program, a trucker meets the self-driving truck at the Arizona state border, which then takes the load across the state before handing it off to a second conventional trucker for the short-haul trip. During the autonomous trip, an Uber employee rides in the driver seat of the autonomous truck to monitor – but not to drive.

If one day both the technology and regulations play out in favor of self-driving trucks, two scenarios emerge. The first would find self-driving trucks handling long-haul highway legs with no one at the wheel as they meet up with conventional truckers, who then drive the deliveries into city centers. The other possibility is Uber could sell its technology to trucking owner-operators, who then use it to sleep while the truck handles the bulk of long-distance driving.

Truckers make their money only when their rigs are on the road. They are also limited by law in terms of how much time they can spend behind the wheel, something a self-driving truck could impact positively. It could also introduce more round-trip hauls that find a driver back home at the end of the day’s journey.

“The big step for us recently is that we can plan to haul goods in both directions, using Uber Freight to coordinate load pickups and drop-offs with local truckers,” said Alden Woodrow, who leads Uber’s self-driving truck effort. “Keeping trucking local allows these drivers to make money while staying closer to home.”

Uber Freight, which launched last May, is an app that matches shippers with loads using technology drawn from Uber’s ride-hailing app. Typically such trucking logistics have been coordinated through phone calls and emails.

The San Francisco-based company isn’t alone in its pursuit of self-driving truck technology, with start-ups such as Embark joining companies such as Tesla and its new Tesla Semi to carve out a slice of a $700 billion industry that moves 70% of all domestic freight, according to the American Trucking Association.

Despite the push, the technology behind self-driving trucks remains in its infancy, with hurdles that include government regulations and trucker buy-in. A truck that makes the long haul between exits, allowing a driver to sleep in the cab, could increase their profit. But they’d have to trust the technology, as well as fork over what premises to be a considerable investment to make their cabs autonomous.

Technology may be for sale

Woodrow says Uber’s trucking plans remains in development, but he does not see the company running a fleet of self driving trucks – which would imply that its technology would be available for purchase from large, established shipping companies.

“Today we’re operating our own trucks, but in the future it remains to be seen what happens,” he says. “Trucking is a very large and sophisticated business with a lot of companies in the value chain who are good at what they do. So our desire is to partner.”

Uber’s current Arizona pilot program does not feature trucks making end-to-end runs from pickup to delivery because it’s tough to make huge trucks navigate urban traffic on their own.

Instead, Uber’s Volvo trucks receive loads at state border weigh stations. These trucks are equipped with hardware, software and an array of sensors developed by Uber’s Advanced Technologies Group that help the truck make what amounts to a glorified cruise-control run across the state. Uber ATG also is behind ongoing self-driving car testing Arizona, Pennsylvania, and San Francisco.

Uber did not disclose what items it is transporting for which companies.

Once the Uber trucks exit at the next highway hub near the Arizona border, they are met by a different set of truckers who hitch the trailer to own their cab to finish the delivery.

The idea is that truckers get to go home to their families instead of being on the road. In a video Uber created to tout the program, the company showcases a California trucker who, once at the Arizona border, hands his trailer to an Uber self-driving truck for its trip east, while picking up a different load that needs to head back to California.

States adapting rules

Autonomous vehicles are being pursued by dozens of companies ranging from large automakers to technology start-ups. Slowly, states are adapting their rules to try to be on the front lines of a potential transportation shift.

Michigan, California and Arizona, for example, have been constantly updating their autonomous car testing laws in order to court companies working on such tech.

California recently joined Arizona in announcing that it would allow self-driving cars to be tested without a driver at the wheel.

Skeptics of the self-driving gold rush include the Consumer Watchdog Group’s John Simpson, who in a recent letter to lawmakers said “any autonomous vehicle legislation should require a human driver behind a steering wheel capable of taking control.”

Uber’s announcement aims to cast a positive light on the company’s trucking efforts and comes a few weeks after it settled a contentious year-old lawsuit brought by Waymo, the name of Google’s self-driving car program.

 

Print Edition

SAN FRANISCO – Uber has been sending self-driving trucks on delivery runs across Arizona since November, the first step in what promises to be a freight transportation  revolution that could radically reshape the jobs of long-haul truckers.

After testing its technology earlier in 2017, Uber began contracting with trucking companies to use its own autonomous Volvo big rigs to take over loads as they traverse the state, it disclosed.

Mar 09, 2018

11 Nations OK Pacific Rim trade pact

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Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries signed a sweeping free trade agreement Thursday to streamline trade and slash tariffs just hours before President Trump announced his plans to impose new tariffs on aluminum and steel to protect U.S. producers.

Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership last year, causing fears that it would not prosper without its most influential country. But the remaining 11 members pressed ahead, saying they were showing resolved against protectionism.

The ministers dropped key provisions that the Americans had required on protection of intellectual property, among others. The renegotiated pact signed in the Chilean capital of Santiago was renamed the Comprehensive and Progressive Trans-Pacific Partnership.

The pact covers 500 million people; it includes Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore, and Vietnam which together account for 13% of the global economy. Its success highlights the isolation of the U.S. under Trump’s protectionist rhetoric on trade and his “America first” philosophy.

“It leaves the U.S. at a disadvantage from both a trade and a broader strategic perspective,” said Joshua Meltzer, senior fellow in the global economy and development program at the Brookings Institutions. “It is now a trade bloc that discriminates against the U.S.”

Meltzer said the United States’ ability to shape the rules of trade in the Asia-Pacific region “is very much diminished”

The U.S. originally the biggest Trans-Pacific Partnership economy, was one of the trade deal’s strongest supporters before Trump took office. Trump has said he prefers country-to-country deals and is seeking to renegotiate several major trade agreements, including the North American Free Trade Agreement, which includes the U.S., Mexico and Canada. This is “a strong sign against the protectionist pressures, and in favor of a world open to free trade , without unilateral sanctions and the threat of trade wars,” Chilean Foreign Minister Heraldo Munoz said.

The original Trans-Pacific Partnership was conceived by the U.S. as a counterweight to China’s growing economic influence through a robust trading bloc that excluded the Asian giant. The thinking was that China would have an incentive to open its market and liberalize its policies in an effort to eventually qualify for membership.

Without the United States, it doesn’t serve that purpose,” said Edward Alden, senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. “It becomes a modest liberalization measure.

Print Edition

Trade ministers from 11 Pacific Rim countries signed a sweeping free trade agreement Thursday to streamline trade and slash tariffs just hours before President Trump announced his plans to impose new tariffs on aluminum and steel to protect U.S. producers.

Trump withdrew the U.S. from the Trans-Pacific Partnership last year, causing fears that it would not prosper without its most influential country. But the remaining 11 members pressed ahead, saying they were showing resolved against protectionism.

Feb 26, 2018

Long Beach City Council Takes On Port Truck Driver Misclassification

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The Long Beach City Council took unanimous action on February 20 to address the misclassification of port truck drivers as independent contractors, rather than as employees, by trucking companies operating within the Port of Long Beach.

The issue of port truck driver misclassification has been gaining increasing visibility in the past few years, culminating in a series of national articles by USA Today last year that documented cases in which truck drivers working at the San Pedro Bay Ports were misclassified as independent contractors and forced to make payments toward their trucks with their wages, working long hours for little take-home pay. The publication compared the practice of indebting these drivers to indentured servitude.

At the meeting, Mayor Robert Garcia, who brought the agenda item to the council, pointed out that the California Labor Commissioner has received more than 900 complaints about port truck driver misclassification and has upheld more than 500.

Garcia’s request, which was co-authored by Vice Mayor Rex Richardson and Councilmembers Lena Gonzalez, Jeannine Pearce and Al Austin, included multiple directives to address the issue. The council unanimously approved the following:

• Adding language to the council’s state and federal legislative agendas to support legislation that would improve working conditions for port truck drivers;

• Requesting the city attorney to work with the offices of the California Labor Commissioner and Attorney General “to explore options to support regulatory efforts;”

• And requesting the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners and the council’s Harbor and Tidelands Committee to hold hearings on the issue “with the goal of finding solutions that protect the Port of Long Beach’s proprietary interests.”

“We have some great both large and independent trucking firms. . . . But we also have a situation at the port where there are many trucking companies that quite frankly are taking advantage of the workers,” Garcia said. “It is clear to me and to many others that truck drivers at the Port of Long Beach are often misclassified as independent contractors, which results in them working poverty level wages and denies them the protections guaranteed by state and federal laws.”

Garcia said that legislation has been introduced to Congress to address the issue, and that he expected state legislation to be introduced within days. By approving his proposal, the council decided to support and align with such legislation.

Truck drivers, union representatives, community members and clergy representing various religions testified in support of the mayor’s proposal at the council meeting. Justice for Port Truck Drivers, an arm of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, sent out a statement praising the city council the following day.

The California Trucking Association (CTA) contends that the California Department of Labor has been unfair and prejudicial in deciding misclassification claims against trucking companies. The organization filed suit in December 2016 challenging the fairness of the “Berman hearing process,” which it says the California Department of Labor’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement has been using to adjudicate these misclassification complaints. Berman hearings are a type of administrative hearing used by the California Labor Commissioner to resolve wage claims.

Because the suit is ongoing, representation from the CTA said the organization could not comment. But a CTA press release announcing the lawsuit indicated that it found the Berman hearings process to be unfair. CTA CEO Shawn Yadon stated: “We believe the Labor Commission and Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, for more than four years, have been intentionally ignoring their statutory obligations to be neutral and fair and are, instead, abusing their authority in order to drive a particular agenda – to undermine the many small business trucking companies that operate under the legal independent contractor relationship with other, larger companies – by forcing predetermined results from labor hearings.”

The statement from the CTA also claimed that the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and affiliated groups had sought the assistance from state and federal agencies in “cracking down” on trucking companies using independent contractors, and that those agencies then “assisted in efforts to stimulate misclassification claims by owner-drivers.”

The City of Los Angeles has also taken up the issue. In January, the Los Angeles City Attorney filed lawsuits against three trucking companies operating in the ports, arguing that they misclassified truck drivers as independent contractors and thereby avoided providing benefits and paying associated taxes.

At the council meeting, Garcia indicated that hearings on the matter by the council’s Harbor and Tidelands Committee and the Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners would result in collection of information and data to be brought back to the council at a later date.

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The Long Beach City Council took unanimous action on February 20 to address the misclassification of port truck drivers as independent contractors, rather than as employees, by trucking companies operating within the Port of Long Beach.

Feb 27, 2018

New Innovation Institute Hopes to Build Up Economic Entrepreneurial Foundation

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On the heels of the city’s adoption of the 10-year Economic Development Blueprint last year, faculty at California State University, Long Beach, founded the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to foster startup businesses.

“Whether it be a nonprofit, a social enterprise, private sector for profit,” Wade Martin, director of the institute and CSULB teacher, said. “What we try to do is make sure that they have the support necessary to open a business, preferably in Long Beach or the Greater Long Beach Area.”

The official beginning of the institute was July 1, 2017. The initial proposal was presented by Ingrid Martin, a professor of marketing and director of graduate programs for the College of Business Administration; Michael Solt, dean of the College of Business Administration; and Martin. An anonymous donor supplied an annual fund of $75,000 per year for up to five years to sustain the institute’s administrative costs during its infancy. During that time, Martin said the goal is to become an endowed institute, which would provide a more stable financial situation.

Martin said there have been pockets of programs and support for entrepreneurs and innovators on campus for years but there has never been an umbrella organization to bring them together and support their activity. One such program is the university’s Innovation Challenge, which has existed for eight years and awards up to $50,000 to the winning senior to support the opening of his or her business.

“About three years ago, some MBA students thought they would create an incubator. It still exists and meets every Tuesday night to support businesses in the community and support students in the Innovation Challenge,” Martin said. “They are now alumni and work in the community but come back every Tuesday night to support and provide programming.”

Seeing the commitment made by students and alumni, Martin and these counterparts believe there was an interest and need, an institutional void, which is now being filled by the institute. Like the city’s blueprint, the institute’s core belief is that the local economy is and will continue to be driven by entrepreneurs and small business, which may need support.

Martin explained that, in the case of Long Beach, relying on large companies such as Boeing Company as the economic foundation is dangerous because if they leave the city the economy takes a huge hit. However, if the foundation is built on small business and entrepreneurs that are tied to the city, with an ecosystem of support and resources, they can grow and flourish, providing a more stable foundation for the city’s economy.

“What we have found is that our model to be able to provide the support is to partner with existing organizations, making sure we’re not duplicating programs, but complementing existing programs,” Martin said. “The university has expertise that we can bring to the table, and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

The institute has already partnered with various organizations throughout the city, including the Downtown Long Beach Alliance, Centro CHA, the Aquarium of the Pacific, Long Beach City College and Molina Healthcare, among others. Through these partnerships, the institute is assisting in providing various workshops and events to support entrepreneurs at all levels. Thus far, all programming has been free.

The next institute-sponsored event is CSULB VR Day on March 9. The event will use virtual reality to “highlight intellectual, gender and racial diversity” in the workplace. The event includes a keynote address, faculty and practitioner panels, workshops, and demonstrations from faculty and student research collaborations, NativeVR and Arvada Labs. NativeVR’s demonstration of UTURN, developed by Dr. Nathalie Mathe, “is an immersive live-action virtual reality film where viewers experience both sides of the gender divide in tech.”

To spread their presence to downtown, the institute is working with Shooshani Developers, which is planning a mixed-use project at The Streets (formerly City Place) for CSULB students and employees. Martin said the hope is to include coworking and innovation space within the project to support their efforts.

Recruitment for the institute’s board of directors is underway, according to Martin. He said it will consist of 15 members who are internal to the university and 15 members from off campus, such as partners, entrepreneurs, alumni and those committed to the institute’s mission.

“We believe we will help strengthen the ecosystem and support the city’s efforts to have this solid foundation for economic development,” Martin said. “We strongly believe in the 10-year Blueprint and the idea of diversity and inclusion as central to our mission.”

Print Edition

On the heels of the city’s adoption of the 10-year Economic Development Blueprint last year, faculty at California State University, Long Beach, founded the Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship to foster startup businesses.

“Whether it be a nonprofit, a social enterprise, private sector for profit,” Wade Martin, director of the institute and CSULB teacher, said. “What we try to do is make sure that they have the support necessary to open a business, preferably in Long Beach or the Greater Long Beach Area.”

Mar 06, 2018

IBM, Maersk in Blockchain Tie-up for Shipping Industry

Online Edition

IBM and Danish transport company Maersk said they were working together to digitize, manage, and track shipping transactions using blockchain technology.

The technology, which powers the digital currency bitcoin, enables data sharing across a network of individual computers. It has gained worldwide popularity due to its usefulness in recording and keeping track of assets or transactions across all industries.

The blockchain solution being built by the two companies is expected to be made available to the ocean shipping industry later this year, according to a joint statement from International Business Machines Corp and the container unit of A.P. Moller-Maersk. It would help manage and track the paper trail of tens of millions of shipping containers globally by digitizing the supply chain process from end to end.

This will enhance transparency and make the sharing of information among trading partners more secure.

When adopted at scale, the solution based on the Linux Foundation's open source Hyperledger platform has the potential to save the industry billions of dollars, the companies said.

"Working closely with Maersk for years, we've long understood the challenges facing the supply chain and logistics industry and quickly recognized the opportunity for blockchain to provide massive savings when used broadly across the ocean shipping industry ecosystem," said Bridget van Kralingen, senior vice president, industry platforms, at IBM.

IBM and Maersk intend to work with a network of shippers, freight forwarders, ocean carriers, ports and customs authorities to build the new global trade digitization product, the companies said.

The product is also designed to help reduce or eliminate fraud and errors and minimize the time products spend in the transit and shipping process.

For instance, Maersk found that in 2014, just a simple shipment of refrigerated goods from East Africa to Europe can go through nearly 30 people and organizations, including more than 200 different communications among them.

The new blockchain solution would enable the real-time exchange of original supply chain transactions and documents through a digital infrastructure that connects the participants within the network, according to IBM and Maersk.

Online Edition

IBM and Danish transport company Maersk said they were working together to digitize, manage, and track shipping transactions using blockchain technology.

The technology, which powers the digital currency bitcoin, enables data sharing across a network of individual computers. It has gained worldwide popularity due to its usefulness in recording and keeping track of assets or transactions across all industries.