To Ken Riley, there’s a world of difference between innovation and automation. “New technology means you’re introducing something that will help me do my job more efficiently,” he said. “Automation means you’re eliminating my job.” Riley, president of the International Longshoremen’s Association Local No. 1422, said he’ll make automation a key issue when he and other union officials start negotiating a new six-year contract for the roughly 1,200 members who load and unload cargo at the Port of Charleston.
Read More: Post and Courier
The U.S. trade deficit widened for a second straight month in November as imports rose to their highest level in more than a year on higher oil prices, suggesting that trade was a significant drag on economic growth in the fourth quarter. The Commerce Department said on Friday the trade gap increased 6.8 percent to $45.2 billion. October’s trade deficit was revised down slightly to $42.4 billion from the previously reported $42.6 billion. Economists polled by Reuters had forecast the trade gap little changed at $42.5 billion in November. When adjusted for inflation, the deficit increased to $63.6 billion from $60.3 billion in October.
Read More: Reuters
Harold J. Daggett, President of the International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) has voiced his opposition to fully automated terminals in the lead up to talks with management leaders from the United States Maritime Alliance beginning February 13. The Association’s current six-year Master Contract will run until September 30, 2018, giving it 20 months to negotiate a new Master Contract at Atlantic and Gulf Coast ports or extend the current agreement. “I predict the issue of automation will dominate our Master Contract talks,” he said. Just recently, the New York Times featured an article “The Long-Term Jobs Killer Is Not China. It’s Automation.” The article revealed some shocking statistics from an industry whose many workers are members of our fellow AFL-CIO affiliated union, the United Steel Workers.
Read More: Maritime Executive
The world’s second-largest petrochemical port in Houston may command 75% of all US polyethylene exports, but expected growth in international shipments as a slew of new ethane crackers and associated derivative units start coming online this year has US ports a thousand miles or more away gearing up to nab a piece of the action. Last month Georgia’s Port of Savannah increased its ship-to-shore crane total to 26 – one more than the 25 at the Port of Houston’s Bayport and Barbour’s Cut terminals – with the arrival of four new post-Panamax cranes that cost about $15 million each. Resin packagers and distributors, such as New Jersey-based A&R Bulk-Pak and Mobile, Alabama-based SeaPac Inc., are setting up operations at or near the Port of Charleston in South Carolina. The Port of New Orleans also is adding post-Panamax cranes, resin packaging capacity and taking empty containers from Memphis shipped via barge on the Mississippi River to add loading capacity for exporters.
Read More: Platts
This week, our Americans at Work photo essay features images of Port Houston, the busiest port for deep-draft vessels in the United States, made by photographer Daniel Kramer: “The Port includes both public and private terminals along the Houston Ship Channel. Geographically, the ship channel begins five miles east of Houston, Texas, and runs through one of the largest petrochemical complexes in the world, then terminates 52 miles later in the Gulf of Mexico. A 2015 study by Martin Associates showed that the port impacts 2.7 million jobs in the U.S. economy.
Read More: The Atlantic