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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May 29, 2012

Connecting the Blogs on Labor’s Supply Chain Attacks

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Connecting the Blogs on Labor’s Supply Chain Attacks

By Joel Anderson | 05/29/2012 | 6:14 AM

In previous blog postings I have discussed unwarranted attacks on our industry by leftwing front groups for the labor unions who have targeted the third-party warehouse industry in Illinois, New Jersey and California.

At IWLA we felt, the campaigns were too similar in action and words to not be orchestrated from a single source. All of these attacks had two things in common: They target temporary employment in the warehouse industry as being inherently abusive, and all accuse Walmart by name of forcing third-party warehouses to resort to these abusive employment practices even when the retail giant is not one of their customers. This has made these campaigns appear like the union front groups were simply targeting warehouse operators in order to continue waging their so-far unsuccessful war on Walmart by other means.

Some readers may have thought I was being paranoid, or at the very least exaggerating the extent and aim of this conspiracy. If so, you should take a close look at an article published at the end of March by Labor Notes, which is the name of both a monthly magazine of the union movement and an organization that holds annual union organizer meetings and training conferences.

Titled “Supply Chain Workers Test Strength of Links,” it appears on the Labor Notes website here: http://labornotes.org/2012/03/supply-chain-workers-test-strength-links.

See if the author’s lead sentence doesn’t chill you: “Workers in the nation’s sprawling distribution network hold enormous potential power. They bring $622 billion of goods each year from abroad to retail shelves. A work stoppage in any section of the interlinked network—dock workers, railroad workers, truck drivers, warehouse workers, store workers—could shut off the spigot of goods that keep consumers happy and keep profits churning through the supply chain.”

The article cites wildcat and other strikes by the longshoremen’s union and Teamsters as examples of how a coordinated cross-modal union action could bring the U.S. economy to a halt. The article then discusses coordinated efforts to organize warehouse workers in what it identifies as “three crucial hubs” – the Inland Empire area of California, warehouses southwest of Chicago, and distribution centers along the New Jersey Turnpike.

In regard to the Inland Empire organizing drive among warehouse workers, the article states, “Originally designed to blitz the industry following passage of the abandoned Employee Free Choice Act, the drive is now targeting workers whose ultimate controller is Walmart.”

The article then discusses the Chicago area warehouse worker organizing campaign mounted by an affiliate of the United Electrical Workers, while failing to mention that this union was kicked out of the AFL-CIO in the late 1940s because it was accused of being controlled by the Communist Party.

The article quotes one of the UE affiliate’s organizers: “Any effort to improve conditions for warehouse workers has to be centered on Walmart.” The article explains: “The strategy is to organize workers on the lowest rungs of the Walmart ladder at the same time that allies such as Jobs with Justice and OUR Walmart, the organization of store workers backed by UFCW, are pressuring the company.”

The goal is to embarrass Walmart by smearing its 3PL warehouse vendors, the organizer said. “Shaming in combination with a robust campaign of organized workers could cause the company to look hard at its own business model.”

This article traces coordination of the smear campaigns in the three different parts of the country back to a teleconference held by the organizers last fall. It also quotes the UE-affiliate organizer to the effect that “logistics workers have tremendous potential power because retailers compete on the basis of how efficient their supply chains are.”

The article points out, “Pulling that supply chain taut puts power in the hands of the workers who move the goods.” It also quotes a longshoremen’s union organizer saying that warehouse workers need their own “pervasive ground game coupled with leverage from trucking and the docks.”

This organizer also said he likes to envision a future longshoremen’s union contract expiration when warehouse workers could “rowdily demand union recognition” while his union’s members on the docks insist that these warehouse workers receive it.

Now you know where the smears are coming from, why they were spawned, who is creating and directing them, and how far the unions are willing to go to get their way. Look to next week’s blog for the IWLA response and action plan.

Online Version

Connecting the Blogs on Labor’s Supply Chain Attacks

By Joel Anderson | 05/29/2012 | 6:14 AM

In previous blog postings I have discussed unwarranted attacks on our industry by leftwing front groups for the labor unions who have targeted the third-party warehouse industry in Illinois, New Jersey and California.

Article link
Jul 11, 2005

BNSF out of owned-trailers

Print Version

BNSF Railway will no longer own highway trailers, the carier said.

On Friday, the Fort Worth-based operator announced it will phase out rail-controlled trailers after the 2006 fall peak season instead of by mid-2006 as originally planned to provides shippers more time to adjust to the change.

As part of the plan, BNSF will transition the trailers back to leasing companies. Some trailers will be transitioned to private ownership by July; other transition dates will be announced in early 2006.

Exiting the rail-controlled trailer business will enable BNSF to focus on it core line-haul service, according to a marketing bulletin.

Print Version

BNSF Railway will no longer own highway trailers, the carier said.

On Friday, the Fort Worth-based operator announced it will phase out rail-controlled trailers after the 2006 fall peak season instead of by mid-2006 as originally planned to provides shippers more time to adjust to the change.

As part of the plan, BNSF will transition the trailers back to leasing companies. Some trailers will be transitioned to private ownership by July; other transition dates will be announced in early 2006.

Oct 08, 2012

Motor Carrier Buys Chassis for CCM Pool

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Motor Carrier Buys Chassis for CCM Pool

Journal of Commerce
By Joseph Bonney
October 8, 2012

A motor carrier has purchased more than 1,500 intermodal chassis from OOCL (USA) and will put them into Consolidated Chassis Management’s Mid-South cooperative pool for use by OOCL.

The deal by IMC Companies is a major step in the continuing disengagement by container ship lines from owning and operating chassis in the U.S. market, and toward increased motor carrier responsibility for the equipment.

IMC Companies and other members of the American Trucking Associations’ Intermodal Motor Carrier Conference are studying creation of a motor carrier cooperative that would purchase chassis from ocean carriers.

The North American Chassis Pool Cooperative would contribute chassis to neutral pools such as CCM. Motor carriers have filed papers in Delaware for formation of the co-op as a limited liability company.

CCM, owned by 18 container ship lines, operates six regional cooperative pools. CCM received Federal Maritime Commission approval last year to accept chassis contributed by truckers and shippers as well as ocean carriers.

The U.S. is the only major nation where most chassis used for international shipments are owned or leased by ocean carriers. In Europe and Asia, chassis normally are provided by truckers, forwarders or shippers.

Ocean carriers for a decade have been moving to reduce their multibillion-dollar involvement in chassis. The process began with chassis pools such as those operated by CCM, which was formed in 2005.

In 2009, Maersk Line transferred its chassis fleet to newly formed Direct ChassisLink Inc., which rents equipment to truckers by the day. Since the creation of DCLI, now owned by private equity firm Littlejohn, most major ocean carriers have quit providing free chassis in some or all locations.

IMC Companies is the first motor carrier to execute an operating agreement with CCM’s regional pools. The chassis IMC Companies has acquired will be dedicated to OOCL’s use in CCM’s Memphis-based Mid-South pool.

“This is an historic event for our company and industry in developing an industry solution to transition ownership of chassis from ocean carriers to other entities,” IMC Companies Chairman Mark H. George said in announcing the deal.

George said IMC is part of the ATA group studying creation of a motor carrier co-op that would “acquire ocean carriers’ chassis and then contribute those chassis back into the CCM gray pool model.”

“Simply said, the cooperative’s desire would be to replace ocean carrier or other owning entities’ ownership with NACPC ownership and to have an active ‘say’ in managing the chassis through participation in a CCM pool,” George said in a statement.

Curtis Whalen, executive director of the ATA’s Intermodal Motor Carrier Conference, said truckers want to improve the quality of chassis. Motor carriers complain constantly about old equipment and poor maintenance by ocean carriers.

The move by ocean carriers to reduce their role in chassis supply gained momentum after the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration implemented changes that made equipment owners instead of trucking companies responsible for chassis safety while on the road.

Steve Rubin, a former TRAC Intermodal executive and now a consultant who was lead author of a recent Transportation Research Board study of chassis, said truckers will face higher rental costs during the next few years as aging chassis must be replaced.

The average life of chassis is about 20 years and the U.S. international chassis fleet will average 18 years by the end of 2015, Rubin said. “There’s a replacement-cycle cliff coming up,” he said.

As the chassis supply model continues to evolve, truckers want to ensure their needs aren’t ignored, Whalen said. “We need to do something to get better input into the process,” he said. “We also need to upgrade the nature of the chassis we depend on. We’ve always said we thought chassis were not maintained as well as we would maintain them.”

Online Version

Motor Carrier Buys Chassis for CCM Pool

Journal of Commerce
By Joseph Bonney
October 8, 2012

A motor carrier has purchased more than 1,500 intermodal chassis from OOCL (USA) and will put them into Consolidated Chassis Management’s Mid-South cooperative pool for use by OOCL.

The deal by IMC Companies is a major step in the continuing disengagement by container ship lines from owning and operating chassis in the U.S. market, and toward increased motor carrier responsibility for the equipment.

Article link
Aug 27, 2019

MULTIMODAL 2020

Online Version

Multimodal 2020 celebrates thirteen years of putting shippers, retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, importers and exporters in front of exhibitors who offer the latest logistics and supply chain solutions.   Multimodal is firmly established as the UK, Ireland and Northern Europe’s premier freight transport, logistics and supply chain management event.   

Whether you are a 3PL, BCO, shipping line, logistics provider, haulier, pallet network, port or warehouse owner, Multimodal offers a unique opportunity to make valuable face to face contact with new prospects and existing companies.   ​Year on year, shippers and cargo owners attend to improve their businesses; by finding ways of moving their products more efficiently and by meeting new suppliers. 

Multimodal represents every logistics sector under one roof, and is characterised by key vertical sectors, including manufacturing, retail, agribusiness, chemical, automotive, electronics, FMCG, food & drink, fashion, pharmaceuticals, construction, aerospace, energy, real estate, recycling, paper/print and perishables, amongst others, whilst horizontally, the show covers all modes of transportation, including sea, road, rail, air and inland waterways.

This matrix design makes Multimodal incredibly valuable and accessible for shippers - whilst also affording them the opportunity to successfully meet and network with peers from other sectors, which is another key reason for their attendance.

This attendance next year will be bolstered by two brand new initiatives.

Firstly – the revamped conference programme will feature a host of vertical half day seminars that reflect shipper attendance. These free-of-charge sessions will also allow suppliers to these sectors to participate in lively debate.

Secondly – we will be introducing a bespoke match-making service to connect shippers – our VIP visitors – to each other and to our exhibitors. This will be closed programme to add real value to stand-holders and sponsors.

Lastly – we will be further upgrading our day three offering - addressing training, recruitment and the skills gap which are major threats to the success of many companies, with a major focus on apprenticeships, training, re/upskilling, education andrecruitment with seminars and initiatives specific to this sector.

Multimodal 2020 will also feature two amazing networking events:-

The Multimodal Awards -  the industry's recognition of the amazing talent within all sectors of transport and logistics. The event is a great place to network and enjoy a great evening amongst fellow professionals

The Multimodal Hog Roast -  join us for our famous get-together for both visitors and exhibitors - in a relaxed informal atmosphere

Online Version

Multimodal 2020 celebrates thirteen years of putting shippers, retailers, manufacturers, wholesalers, importers and exporters in front of exhibitors who offer the latest logistics and supply chain solutions.   Multimodal is firmly established as the UK, Ireland and Northern Europe’s premier freight transport, logistics and supply chain management event.   

Article link
May 09, 2012

M-commerce fuels next generation fulfilment systems for last mile

Online Edition

In April 2011, according to IMRG, over £5.2 billion was spent online in the UK alone, which was a 19 percent increase from the previous year. Forrester Research expects this upward trend to continue with predicted total sales through e-commerce across Europe reported to be increasing by 16% year on year until at least 2016. In particular, Forrester forecast accelerated growth among countries like Italy and Spain, which have been slower to embrace online shopping than their Northern European neighbours. Within mature e-commerce markets like the UK, in addition to greater total volumes of spending, the actual amounts being spent are higher, with the same study reporting an average order value of £174 in the UK
 
Sales volumes through m-commerce channels are also expanding rapidly with purchases in the UK, France and Germany combined expected to reach £9.1 billion this year, over 50% higher than the total spent in 2011. This is based on findings published by the Centre for Retail Research (CRR) and Kelkoo, which predict that Britain will be by far the biggest market in Europe for mobile commerce.
 
As e-commerce and m-commerce have continued to rise in importance, experts have stopped focusing so heavily on multichannel and now moved on to talk about an omnichannel world. What's the difference you might ask? It's a subtle one, because whereas multichannel describes the way retailers have launched a variety of business operations to support different distribution channels, these may not be as joined up a customer might expect. In an omnichannel business, the operations are completely integrated, which means a customer can literally hop between different sales channels and get the same seamless service whether they are buying in a store, online, from a phone, kiosk or a franchise.
 
With electronic commerce being such big business, getting fulfilment right has become more important than ever. In the warehouse, this means fundamentals like picking operations need to be streamlined, because picking single orders is time consuming and therefore expensive. The largest retailers may look to full automation to reduce their cost base but this isn't usually an option for small to mid sized retailers who cannot justify the capital outlay and need more flexibility. Here systems like voice technology have proved their worth as a way to simultaneously cope with traditional bulk orders going onto retail outlets and single item e-commerce sales.
 
One area that has seen perhaps the biggest technological improvements is last mile fulfilment. Typically performed by a third party service provider, this is a critical aspect of the overall sale - and indeed overall brand experience - to get right, especially as the value of individual orders has increased beyond the £150 mark.
 
Now that consumers are spending more online, they expect to be able to track items purchased right through the delivery chain as a standard offering. Many logistics operators offer real time traceability as part of their proof of delivery (POD) service. There is also a new breed of advanced electronic POD systems coming onto the market, such as the next generation 'ecoPOD' system, which have extended the entry level functionality to notify the sender within 2 hours of a delivery being due and providing a full audit trail from initial collection to final delivery point. Using GPS tracking capability, advanced proof of delivery systems incorporate additional features that support achieving operational and sustainability priorities like lower costs and reduced carbon footprint.
 
Apart from improving the customer experience as goods are received, next generation proof of delivery systems like the ecoPOD can also make a significant contribution to reducing the cost of fulfilment provision itself. As fully paperless systems, they remove all unnecessary administration and re-keying of information, which, in addition to eliminating errors, allows the overall number of deliveries that can potentially be made in a day to be increased, improving efficiency and profitability for the service provider.
 
In line with the rise in m-commerce transactions, recent innovations in the development of new mobile payment gateways are now being incorporated into next generation proof of delivery systems. So as well as providing irrefutable evidence that an item has been safely received, payments can also be taken immediately at the point of delivery, or alternatively, refunds issued instantly, upon collection. Offering a means for fulfilment service providers to diversify into profitable new business areas with the provision of value added services, these clever new payment gateways are highly secure and include integrated chip and PIN verification from a single device.
 
Apart from the positive impact on business competitiveness, having the ability to incorporate payment on delivery/refund on collection functionality has a further beneficial effect on cash flow, as cash-to-cash accounting cycles are reduced due to better visibility of the delivery cycle. And this further reinforces the more intangible benefits of proof of delivery systems, which foster deeper trust between the buyer and seller through service excellence and transparency of information.
 
Improving efficiency and saving money are obvious priorities when implementing proof of delivery systems, but technologies like ecoPOD are also making an important contribution to overall carbon footprint reduction within logistics as a whole. In a recent study conducted by Zetes, driver behaviour monitoring through its POD system resulted in customers achieving a 40% reduction to operating costs through more efficient vehicle management, improved driver route optimisation and reduced fuel consumption.
 
Just as proof of delivery solutions are advancing both in terms of the breadth of functionality offered and their contribution to carbon footprint reduction, they are also evolving in terms of the way they are being delivered. The current unstable economic climate has heightened awareness of the need for careful risk management. For many businesses, their continued success requires a careful balancing act between the need to invest in new technology to improve competitive advantage and the inherent risks capital expenditure brings. Managing cash flow and preserving working capital are strategic priorities and technology providers need to adapt accordingly to give users the flexibility they require. A new breed of suppliers are offering fulfilment solutions like voice picking and proof of delivery as a fully managed service.
 
This approach completely removes any risk associated with the investment by allowing companies to effectively spread the cost as a fixed term commitment. In many cases, such initiatives include the provision of the entire solution - including latest handheld devices, next generation proof of delivery software and ongoing support and device management – as a monthly fee which is accounted for as ongoing 'opex' rather than one off 'capex'. It is proving highly attractive for businesses looking for ways to give their service provision an edge, whilst at the same time, giving a boost to productivity.
 
TNT's Benelux operation provides an interesting example to highlight how adopting a proof of delivery system as a managed service made better financial sense. Its customers expect to be able to check the status of deliveries at any time.  TNT regards proof of delivery as essential and the only way to really distinguish their brand from the competition, by maintaining the highest service levels and offering customers full transparency on the status of their deliveries.
 
However TNT wanted to avoid having ownership of the responsibility for ensuring the availability of the scanners. Their calculations showed that organising stocks, maintenance, repairs and spare parts amounted to a time-consuming and burdensome activity. As an alternative, Zetes offered TNT the latest handheld devices and an advanced proof of delivery system based on a managed service contract to provide 620 scanners in perfect working order at all times, for a fixed price each month. The contract guaranteed full service uptime for TNT, because any driver reporting to the warehouse with a faulty scanner receives a fully operational device within thirty minutes. Other companies across Europe are following suit with Nightline, Ireland's biggest independent fulfilment provider also investing almost 1 million Euros in an advanced proof of delivery solution based on a monthly, managed service.
 
For companies looking for ways to ensure they retain their competitive edge, service excellence is everything. The next generation of proof of delivery systems available allow users the ability to simultaneously achieve this whilst innovating with new services like mobile payment and balance the risks of their investments in technology.

Online Edition

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Jun 06, 2012

Chain of Greed: How Walmart’s Domestic Outsourcing Harms Workplace Rights of Warehouse Workers

Online Edition

Few U.S. corporations have attracted more intense scrutiny of their business and labor practices than Walmart. However, while poor working conditions and wage violations among the company’s retail employees have been documented and worker rights violations attributed to Walmart’s international suppliers well publicized, far less understood are the pervasive labor abuses that take place outside of Walmart’s stores but in its domestic supply chain, in service of its bottom line here in the U.S. These worker rights violations are largely the product of Walmart’s signature and aggressive practice of “outsourcing” elements of its warehousing, transportation, and goods-delivery systems to companies that, in turn, often further subcontract the work to still other entities or individuals.

These outsourced workers laboring on Walmart’s behalf toil at the bottom of a complex hierarchy of intermediaries and in alternative employment schemes that leave them vulnerable to significant worker rights abuses and unsure where to seek redress. Walmart sets the parameters for the working conditions in these facilities, sometimes directly by having managers onsite, and sometimes indirectly through monitoring suppliers’ operating costs and setting ever more stringent price demands. But when things go wrong, it’s the contractors that are blamed, while Walmart skirts responsibility for its actions and accountability for its influence over those engaged in its massive supply chain.

This report seeks to shed light on this shady side of outsourcing by profitable corporations like Walmart, and the devastating impact of the practice on U.S. workers. It is a case study of how domestic outsourcing, when not properly regulated by robust laws, and when used by aggressive cost-cutting corporate giants, squeezes all the players in the supply chain beyond their limits, ultimately inflicting severe pain on the subcontracted workforce. In the case of Walmart’s logistics systems, it is a story of low-paid and extremely dangerous warehouse work, with workers unloading and loading boxes, up to 200-pounds, from shipping containers on a piece rate system for days and hours on end.

But it is also an inspiring story of a diverse and talented workforce that is bravely organizing and risking retaliation by taking on Walmart and its contractors to fight for fair working conditions, and of determined state officials seeking to ensure that the labor and employment laws are strongly enforced to level the playing field for law-abiding employers. Focusing on the warehouse workers employed in Southern California and elsewhere who move Walmart goods across the U.S., this report seeks to promote a broader discussion about corporations’ decisions to contract-out dangerous, labor-intensive parts of their businesses to the lowest bidder, and the ill effects this can have on workers, their families, and communities.

As described below, greater transparency and accountability within these multi-layered hydra-like logistics chains are urgently needed. At a time when U.S. economic growth skews so heavily toward low-wage industries and jobs, it is crucial that the public and policymakers alike better understand and respond to the practices and strategies that are propelling this lopsided change. We hope that this report and the case study it highlights will contribute to this broader understanding.

Of special significance, the report details the following findings and conclusions:

Domestic outsourcing is on the rise across key U.S. industries:
Contracting out is becoming increasingly common in many of the nation’s largest and fastest-growing industries, including construction, day labor, janitorial and building services, home health care, warehousing and retail, agriculture, poultry and meat processing, high-tech, delivery, trucking, home-based work, and the public sectors. Even hotels have begun to outsource traditional functions, including cleaning services. Often relying on the use of temporary and staffing agencies, outsourcing in these industries has also resulted in comparatively lower wages for work similar to the jobs previously performed in-house.

Walmart squeezes supply-chain contractors and U.S. workers:
Walmart’s policy of enforcing ever-lower prices has serious implications for the working conditions throughout Walmart’s supply chain. Even manufacturing behemoths are not immune from the pressures Walmart can impose on their profit margins, and by extension, their employment practices. Walmart’s stated “Plus One” bargaining strategy, which requires that all suppliers and contractors reduce their price of goods, increase quality or increase speed of delivery every year, vividly exemplifies the pressure that squeezes contractors’ margins and encourages low-road employment behavior like cutting corners on safety and violating wage and hour laws.

Walmart’s outsourced logistics operations raise critical labor concerns:
As Walmart’s leadership once explained to Wall Street analysts, “The misconception is that we’re in the retail business, we’re in the distribution business.” While Walmart maintains a vast and sophisticated distribution system operated in-house, it also relies on some of the nation’s largest third-party providers to ship and store its goods, including Schneider National and Swift Transportation, which in turn contract with a complex web of temporary agencies to supply the warehouse workforce. In major logistics hubs around the U.S., from Southern California to Chicago to New Jersey, workers employed by outsourced Walmart logistics operations have raised allegations of unpaid wages, health and safety and other serious labor violations.

Labor violations are rampant in Southern California’s Inland Empire, which is a warehouse nerve center for Walmart goods.
Under the watchful eye of Walmart managers, the outsourced warehouse operations of Schneider Logistics and its temporary staffing firms (Rogers Premier and Impact Logistics) have produced rampant wage and overtime and health and safety violations that are the subject of a class action lawsuit. Indeed, evidence produced as a result of the lawsuit makes clear that Walmart is intimately involved in the daily operations of the Schneider operations, which solely move Walmart goods. This report, court documents and recent investigations by the California Labor Commissioner and the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health (Cal/OSHA) reveal the breadth of labor abuses taking place in these warehouses. They include confusing “piece rate” pay schemes where workers are only paid for unloading and loading containers, not for other work performed, for working lengthy hours with no overtime pay, for illegal and falsified pay records, and for hazardous workplace conditions (especially excessive heat, pressure for speed, and unstable storage stacking). These conditions have also created a climate of fear among a largely Latino workforce that claimed labor violations and were subsequently threatened with termination, and a federal court ruling vindicating the workers who alleged retaliation.

Domestic outsourcing imposes an especially severe toll on Latino workers in Southern California and around the U.S.:
Latinos often represent a large segment of those industries where domestic outsourcing by major corporations is most prevalent. In addition, the same industries that implement contracting-out and employ vulnerable, often Latino, workers frequently also have the highest rates of workplace violations of core labor standards. A 2009 study of over 1800 low-wage workers in Los Angeles – nearly 1300 of them Latino – found that minimum wage violations affected 38.3 percent of the workers, and that an astounding 79.6 percent of Latino workers had suffered violation of their overtime pay rights in the week prior to the survey. Logistics companies are no exception. In the production, packaging and warehousing occupations reported in the Los Angeles survey, overtime violation rates reached 37.3 percent of workers, with meal break violations affecting 83.4 percent of these workers.

We should hold major corporations accountable for worker rights abuses that result from unfettered domestic outsourcing.
The challenge for policy makers and enforcement agencies is to use existing enforcement tools effectively to protect workers’ interests, while developing new models to hold these corporate entities accountable for the conditions they engender within the production and logistics pyramids they command. The report offers a combination of strategies that go a long way to: (1) enforce existing labor standards laws that hold multiple entities jointly responsible for any work performed in the business; (2) promote innovative state and federal laws and enforcement strategies to target contracting abuses; (3) secure agreement from Walmart and other supply chain controllers to adopt strong codes of conduct; and (4) document the scope of contracting-out and its impact on U.S. workers.

Online Edition

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Aug 22, 2019

Port sued after canceling deal on project

Online Edition

A Los Angeles company is suing the Port of L.A., claiming it improperly terminated an agreement to negotiate the development of a $130-million container facility at the harbor. The termination came after the company couldn’t secure support for the project from the union representing dockworkers, according to the lawsuit.

In a 15-page complaint filed last week in L.A. County Superior Court, Harbor Performance Enhancement Center claims that it spent four years and more than $2 million on its planned facility at Terminal Island.

Shipping containers were to be stored and accessed at the site, using a “hub and spoke” model that would ultimately ease congestion at the port.

Port officials supported the project, according to the lawsuit, and granted the company an exclusive negotiating agreement. But last month, Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of L.A., told the company that the facility was “infeasible.”

Seroka didn’t provide a reason for ending the agreement, the lawsuit states. The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners, who are appointed by Mayor Eric Garcetti, and the City Council didn’t weigh in on the decision, which the company claims was necessary to validate it.

The lawsuit names the Port of Los Angeles, the Board of Harbor Commissioners and the city of L.A., and asks a judge to overturn the decision.

A port spokesman declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

The company’s lawsuit states it started working with the port on the proposed facility in 2015. It received a permit for a pilot study, conducted an environmental review on the site and secured $130 million in financing.

In 2018, Seroka told the company it also needed to get support from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, or ILWU, for the project to proceed, according to the lawsuit. The union represents more than 10,000 workers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The company would have to guarantee to grant the union jurisdiction and exclusive rights to provide trucking services, according to the lawsuit.

“Rather than help mediate with the ILWU or insist that the ILWU negotiate in good faith, Executive Director Seroka, in April 2018, advised petitioners in writing that they must accommodate the ILWU’s demands because ‘they [ILWU] run the Port,’ ” the suit states.

On May 10 of this year, Seroka sent a letter to the company stating that the port was terminating its agreement.

The company claims it was “continually rebuffed” by union representatives during discussions over the project, the lawsuit states. Jonathan Rosenthal, chief executive of Harbor Performance Enhancement Center, said in a statement to The Times that the requirements with the union were an “unexpected curveball thrown at us.”

“Beyond the time and money we’ve spent, it makes me worried for the city when a green, job-creating project is stymied by a single entity for their own narrow reasons, and none of our decision makers will step in to try to resolve it,” Rosenthal said.

Leaders of the local ILWU didn’t respond to requests for comment.

The lawsuit comes amid another battle at the port. The Board of Harbor Commissioners voted Thursday to approve a permit for driverless cargo handlers to operate inside a facility over the objections of the dockworkers.

Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents the harbor region, said he plans to ask the council to veto the project.

The container shipping company that won that permit, Maersk, has declined to say how many jobs would be affected.

Times staff writer Margot Roosevelt contributed to this report.

 

Online Edition

A Los Angeles company is suing the Port of L.A., claiming it improperly terminated an agreement to negotiate the development of a $130-million container facility at the harbor. The termination came after the company couldn’t secure support for the project from the union representing dockworkers, according to the lawsuit.

In a 15-page complaint filed last week in L.A. County Superior Court, Harbor Performance Enhancement Center claims that it spent four years and more than $2 million on its planned facility at Terminal Island.

Aug 22, 2019

AQMD to tackle pollution from warehouses, rail yards, ports and airports, not everyone is happy

Online Edition

One of the more sweeping air pollution control measures in the history of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties begin rolling out in July, setting up historic battles between Southern California residents and goods-movement companies in the four-county region.

South Coast Air Quality Management District regulations, along with softer measures, are aimed at curtailing what are considered indirect sources of disease-inducing smog: emissions from warehouses, shipping lanes, ports, airports and rail yards. The unusual approach is part of a three-year, herculean effort and is heading for approval later this year.

While the AQMD doesn’t have direct authority over warehouses, trains, airports or even mobile sources, it is targeting facility operators to replace diesel-powered big rigs, trains and airport vehicles — which emit some of the most lung-damaging and planet-heating emissions into the air basin — with zero-emission sources, including: electric- or hydrogen-powered equipment.

Also, the air quality district has been negotiating with the twin ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles to see more cleaner-burning trucks move goods across the region by offering incentives to fleet owners.

First targets are warehouses

Regular meetings with stakeholders have been taking place at AQMD headquarters in Diamond Bar since the governing board voted in May 2018 to begin developing both voluntary measures and regulations to rein in air pollution from indirect sources, including multiple Amazon mega-warehouses in San Bernardino and Riverside counties.

Pressure is being applied by residents who live along the 10, 210, 15, 215, 710 and 110 freeways and are exposed to the bulk of diesel exhaust from trucks leaving the ports, traveling to warehouses, fulfillment centers and rail yards in eastern Los Angeles County and the Inland Empire.

Many environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, and neighborhood groups, such as the Center for Community Action and Environmental Justice in Riverside, point out that this long-awaited measure represents a pivotal moment in the history of air pollution controls.

Historic, different approach

“I would say this is the biggest missing piece in air pollution reduction in the South Coast region,” Bill Magavern, policy director for the nonprofit Coalition For Clean Air, said in a recent interview from his Sacramento office. “We need to treat those facilities as the big sources of pollution they are.”

The AQMD is developing a rules-based approach for warehouses and rail yards, while memoranda of understanding are being promulgated for airports and shipping ports, according to documents obtained by this news group.

On July 26, the AQMD’s Mobile Source Committee will discuss the warehouse rule, considered the most substantial of the five-pronged approach. The AQMD intends to bring the five measures to the full governing board sometime in December, sources said. Some will need approval by the California Air Resources Board.

If adopted, these measures become part of its Air Quality Management Plan, which is required to show reductions in ozone, a lung-damaging pollutant created by sunlight, nitrogen oxides and fine particulates.

Momentum has been building since 2017, when the district first included indirect source pollution measures in its antismog plan. Still, some board members have expressed concerns the measures may damage the economy.

“We do expect opposition from the ports, railroads and airports,” Magavern said.

Replacing diesel trucks

There are about 2 million trucks transporting goods on California’s roadways, with about 500,000 in Southern California, Carlos De La Cruz of the Sierra Club’s My Generation campaign said.

Trucks generate more than three-fourths the nitrogen oxides emissions statewide, he said. These contribute to ozone, which damages the lungs, lowers resistance to diseases and causes wheezing and chest pain. “For such a small segment (of the overall number of vehicles), they present a big health risk,” De La Cruz said.

For the region to meet federal clean air standards for ground-level ozone by a 2023 deadline, the proposed AQMD measures will be needed. Likewise, the air quality district must meet a stricter, health-based standard by 2031. To reach these goals, emissions must be reduced by 45 percent by the first deadline and an additional 55 percent by the next.

“There are few moments in which we have to regulate the entire goods movement industry,” De La Cruz said. “This is an opportunity we won’t see again in the next 15 years.”

Regulations, incentives considered

Documents show the AQMD is considering concrete measures for cutting indirect pollution, but none is certain. For example, planning documents propose these rules for warehouses:

Each warehouse would be placed under an emissions cap of so many pounds per day of pollution that cannot be exceeded. Or, this can be accomplished by requiring emissions of nitrogen oxides and diesel particulates be kept below an established baseline. The document says if a cap is exceeded, trucks could be stopped at the gate and turned away.

Require warehouse operators to apply for funding to replace dirty diesel trucks. Those with clean fleets can generate and trade credits managed through a cap-and-trade bank.

Ports and airports would be encouraged to go greener with cooperative agreements, not regulatory measures.

For example, the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are working on a memorandum of understanding that would enable the AQMD to claim the ports’ pollution credits for satisfying EPA clean air requirements. This would come from voluntary programs that would swap out diesel drayage trucks that take goods from shipping containers to points east to hydrogen- or electric-powered, said Chris Cannon, Port of Los Angeles’ environmental director.

“The purpose of the MOU is to allow the AQMD to get credit for emission reductions that we get in our clean air actions. Those incentives will start next year,” Cannon said.

Since 2005, the port has required cleaner diesel-powered trucks and less-polluting diesel fuel, as well as a requirement to plug in ships at the port instead of keeping them idling to achieve a 85% reduction in diesel particulate matter, said Phillip Stanfield, spokesman for the Port of L.A.

A similar memorandum of understanding is being worked out between the AQMD and five Southern California commercial airports, asking for voluntary programs to “accelerate turn over of vehicles and equipment,”  such as zero-emission airport shuttles and luggage carts, documents show.

Will voluntary approach stick?

Environmental groups say the MOUs are weak and say the AQMD is dragging its feet. The AQMD did not provide responses, despite several requests for interviews.

“I am concerned the South Coast AQMD may be relying too much on incentives,” Magavern said. “We need real reductions that can be quantified, measured and enforced.”

Magavern worries that if a company is allowed to buy pollution credits earned elsewhere, that won’t help the people living along freeways chocked with truck traffic in Bloomington, Long Beach, Fontanta, Rialto, East Los Angeles, Pomona and Riverside.

“We would not support emissions trading,” he said. “If you live in Wilmington, you want emissions reduced right there at the port. It doesn’t do the same for someone buying trees (as part of a pollution trade).

Bottom line: Public health

“We have kids growing up with air pollution that is not healthy for them. It is an example of environmental injustice for low-income communities of color to breathe dirty air downwind from these diesel magnet sources, like ports, rail yards and warehouses,” Magavern added.

A May 21 study from the Journal of American Medical Association found any reduction in diesel particulate matter, especially fine particulates that can lodge deep into the lungs, “may be associated with decreased childhood asthma incidence,” according to the study.

“Really we are talking about local air pollution that has an immediate health impact,” De La Cruz said. “We need strong rules and regulations that protect our health.”

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One of the more sweeping air pollution control measures in the history of Orange County and the urban portions of Los Angeles, Riverside and San Bernardino counties begin rolling out in July, setting up historic battles between Southern California residents and goods-movement companies in the four-county region.

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Jul 09, 2019

LA Port commissioners to revisit terminal automation vote

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The impassioned debate over jobs, automation and robots resumes again at 9 a.m. Thursday, July 11, when the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners revisits its earlier decision to allow a permit that would pave the way for modernization at the Port of L.A.’s largest terminal.

The new hearing, which follows a Los Angeles City Council vote vetoing the commission’s decision and directing the port to reconsider, is expected to bring another record crowd to the cruise terminal’s baggage dome, 250 S. Harbor Blvd., in San Pedro.

Supporters on both sides will weigh in, with a 22-page board staff report reiterating its findings that the permit — sought by APM Terminals, which shipping-container giant Maersk owns — is consistent with the Port Master Plan and the California Coastal Act.

Ray Familathe, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union’s Local 13, said he expects commissioners to address issues raised by the City Council.

He said commissioners should be called on to “address the claims of noncompliance with the Port Master Plan (and) the safety concerns that have been presented.”

And, he added, they should discuss, “the anticipated negative economic impacts fully automated terminals will bring to our communities.”

Tom Boyd, a spokesman for Maersk, said the company is confident that harbor commissioners will stand by their earlier decision to uphold the permit.

“None of the facts have changed since the last time the board voted, and the permit is consistent with the Port Master Plan,” Boyd said Tuesday, June 9, in a written statement.

On Thursday, commissioners will take more testimony and then have the opportunity to change or reaffirm their 3-2 vote rejecting the union’s appeal — thus allowing the permit to remain in place.

A board report to be submitted with Thursday’s hearing found that the permit:

Is consistent with and advances Port Master Plan goals;

Does not pose any identifiable adverse environmental impacts;

Will not interfere with a nearby bird sanctuary; and

Is expected to advance clean environment goals and terminal efficiency.

Also now on record backing APM Terminals’ request is the Coalition for Responsible Transportation, which in a Monday, July 8, letter to the port called on commissioners to move forward with the permit for electric cargo handling equipment. The group said it’s an important step in improving the environment.

But with hundreds of dockworkers protesting the move to automation this year, lawmakers have begun demanding the port consider the bigger picture of how technology on the docks will affect jobs.

Assembly Bill 1321, for example, is currently making its way through Sacramento and would give the State Lands Commission authority to review terminal automation requests.

Thursday’s port hearing, meanwhile, comes after the City Council voted unanimously on June 28 to send the matter back to the commission, arguing the loss of jobs automation would cause needs to be weighed as a factor.

But denying the permit could make little difference.

Terminal operators have said that with or without the permit, they’ll proceed with automation. The permit, for Pier 400, would allow for zero-emissions technology to be implemented, but the terminal’s planned automated straddle carriers can also operate on diesel, which doesn’t require a permit.

The permit, considered routine, was granted by port administrators earlier this year, but then challenged by the powerful ILWU, which has turned out by the hundreds and thousands to protest

Since then, terminal operators and the union have been in talks on a deal to allow automation while preserving jobs.

The talks, facilitated by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, have been ongoing for three months. Thursday’s meeting could include a status report on the ongoing closed-door meetings.

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The impassioned debate over jobs, automation and robots resumes again at 9 a.m. Thursday, July 11, when the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners revisits its earlier decision to allow a permit that would pave the way for modernization at the Port of L.A.’s largest terminal.

The new hearing, which follows a Los Angeles City Council vote vetoing the commission’s decision and directing the port to reconsider, is expected to bring another record crowd to the cruise terminal’s baggage dome, 250 S. Harbor Blvd., in San Pedro.

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Jul 18, 2019

Longshore union, APM terminals strike tentative deal to allow automation to move forward at port

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The longshore union and APM Terminals have struck a tentative deal to end the months-long battle over the future of automation and jobs at the Port of Los Angeles’ largest terminal, officials said Thursday evening, July 18.

APM Terminals, owned by shipping-container giant Maersk, and the association that represents port terminals have agreed, after months of closed-door meetings, to provide a comprehensive, fully paid retraining program for members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said Tom Boyd, Maersk spokesman.

In exchange, the longshore union will allow APM’s permit to bring in zero-emission and near-zero-emission automated equipment to its terminal, on Pier 400, without further protest.

“This focus is on reskilling and upskilling” the workers, Boyd said. “Everyone is quite excited about it.”

Details on the retraining program were light Thursday, Boyd said, because the deal had just been agreed to.

But it appears to end more than a half-year of public turmoil over automation at the mammoth port complex.

In early January, Port of Los Angeles gave routine administrative approval to APM Terminals to bring in the automated equipment.

That equipment, Boyd said, will arrive from Poland this month and is necessary for the future of its operations.

But a month after the approval, the ILWU appealed the decision to the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners. That triggered a public hearing process and months of debate on the future of jobs and automation.

Longshore workers marched in the street. They lined up to speak at commission meetings. They vowed, via officials, not become “the next Detroit.”

Officials for APM Terminals, for their part, pointed to the most recent labor agreement allowing automation and contended — with a majority of harbor commissioners agreeing — that their permit was consistent with the Port Master Plan.

The original vote on the permit was set for April. But the commission delayed their decision for a month, so that Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti could step in and mediate.

Then, a series of votes over the last two months threatened to send the dispute to court. First, the commission voted to reject the ILWU’s appeal, thus OKing the permit.

Second, L.A. City Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents the San Pedro area in which the port sits, brought that decision before his colleagues. The L.A. council voted to send the permit application back to the harbor commission for another vote.

Finally, last week, the harbor commission once again affirmed the permit.

Union officials, at the time, said they’d have to look anew at their options.

Through it all, officials say, negotiations to resolve the impasse continued.

The agreement was worked out among the three parties, with the help of Garcetti’s office, Boyd said.

In a statement, APM Terminals said Garcetti’s “leadership” brought the parties together, adding that he insisted the modernization of Pier 400 couldn’t be completed unless ILWU workers were “equipped with the training and skills” to keep the port competitive.

Thursday’s deal is separate from the union’s current labor agreement and does not need approval from the Port of L.A., officials said.

“This tentative agreement will help longshore workers prepare for the port jobs of the future,” the Pacific Maritime Association, which represents terminal operators, said in a statement. “It is a comprehensive, fully-paid training program to reskill and upskill longshore workers to equip them for the next generation of work on the waterfront.”

The only potential roadblock, Boyd said, is that the City Council, which doesn’t meet again until August, could still send the permit back to the commission for a third look. But Boyd said he doesn’t expect that to happen.

“ILWU will get paid for training,” Boyd said. “It’s a win-win for everybody.”

Buscaino, though, in a statement said the conversation over the future of automation — despite Thursday’s agreement — is far from over. He called for Los Angeles to create a “Blue Ribbon Commission.”

That commission would look at “the future of work and automation in our city,” Buscaino said. “We must prepare for the future today because as this fight has shown, the future is already here.”

Officials for ILWU could not immediately be reached. L.A. port Executive Director Gene Seroka was unavailable for comment Thursday evening.

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The longshore union and APM Terminals have struck a tentative deal to end the months-long battle over the future of automation and jobs at the Port of Los Angeles’ largest terminal, officials said Thursday evening, July 18.

APM Terminals, owned by shipping-container giant Maersk, and the association that represents port terminals have agreed, after months of closed-door meetings, to provide a comprehensive, fully paid retraining program for members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, said Tom Boyd, Maersk spokesman.

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