Hanjin Shipping Officially Leaves Port of Portland,
by Molly Harbarger
Hanjin Shipping Co. withdrew officially Tuesday from the Port of Portland. Spokesman Josh Thomas confirmed that Hanjin notified port operator ICTSI Oregon and port officials.
Earlier in the day, ICTSI chief executive Elvis Ganda said he was surprised when The Oregonian/OregonLive reported that South Korea-based Hanjin sent its stakeholders a new long-range schedule that showed the March 4 Hanjin Brussels ship as its last to dock in Portland.
Later in the day, a letter to shipping companies that work with Hanjin received a letter saying Portland had been dropped as a stop for container ships. According to the letter, Portland would only be serviced by truck and rail via the Seattle port.
Thomas said Hanjin told the port that the expected last day of service is March 9.
Hanjin ships account for 78 percent of the business at Terminal 6, moving 1,600 containers per week. Those shipments moved most Oregon agricultural exports to Asia, and brought apparel for Northwest-based companies like Nike and Columbia Sportswear in and out of the country.
According to the Port of Portland, that business generated $83 million annually.
Hanjin has not commented yet on reasons for withdrawing.
However, its most recent ship sat for four days waiting to be unloaded while the longshore workers stopped working Friday and Monday to protest their grievance with ICTSI, and the port operator canceled work on Saturday and Sunday, saying the workers weren't productive enough to justify paying.
Tuesday, longshoremen started unloading the Hanjin vessel at Terminal 6. But that might have been too late to keep Portland's biggest customer happy.
ICTSI Oregon is part of the Pacific Maritime Association, a coalition with 28 other West Coast port operators who are negotiating a new contract with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The port operators association has accused the dock workers of slowing down work to the point that they are incapacitating normal port activities.
In Portland, the larger contract dispute is layered on years of tension between longshoremen and ICTSI Oregon.
ICTSI and the local longshore workers have been to several arbitration proceedings, where disagreements between the port operator and the union are ironed out. ICTSI officials claim that workers have slowed down activity at the port for years, even before the latest round of contract negotiations.
This caused Hanjin to threaten to leave Portland for good before. Eventually, the Port of Portland decided to pay up to $4 million to incentivize shippers to send containers through Portland in a bid to keep Hanjin's service. That never sat well with the union, and Hanjin's executives remained skeptical of conditions improving at the port as recently as March 2014.
Hanjin's withdrawal could be devastating both to ICTSI Oregon, the first and only U.S. headquarters of the Philippines-based port operating company, and to the longshore workers.
According to the Port of Portland, about 657 jobs are supported by the business brought by Hanjin, paying out $33 million in wages per year. That's about $225,000 in longshore weekly pay.
Hapag-Lloyd, a German company who comprises about 25 percent of Terminal 6's business, and Westwood Shipping, who send few ships through Portland, remain as the container terminal's sole customers.
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