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American ShipperInfrastructureShipping

APMT, ILWU strike LA retraining deal

Dockworkers will be trained to repair automated cargo-handling equipment they argued would take their jobs.

   APM Terminals reached a deal with the longshore union at the Port of Los Angeles to retrain dockworkers in repairing the automated cargo-handling equipment they argued would take their jobs.
   The deal further paves the way for the Maersk subsidiary to start a project to install electrical charging stations and to make other upgrades at a 100-acre portion of its Pier 400 site. The electrical charging stations and other equipment will support a fleet of up to 130 automated straddle carriers to replace yard hostler jobs.
    The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) has bitterly opposed the project because of the expected job losses among registered and casual longshore workers. But after the project won a second approval from the port’s board of commissioners, APMT is ready to press ahead with the project.
   The first six of the autostrads, which are manufactured by Kalmar in Poland, are expected to arrive at the terminal in a week or two. The cranes also are equipped with diesel engines, though eventually APMT said it plans to completely electrify the terminal in order to help meet the goals of the port’s Clean Air Action Plan.
   APMT said the agreement “is critical to the continued success of the Port of Los Angeles [and] that the ILWU is trained for the jobs of the future.”
  An APMT spokesman said the company has not yet determined how many workers will be employed at Pier 400 compared to today, but said registered longshoremen do have a guaranteed income and pension even if they are unable to find work at the port.
   The Pacific Maritime Association, which negotiates contracts on behalf of employers with the ILWU, said the “tentative agreement will help longshore workers prepare for the port jobs of the future. It is a comprehensive, fully paid training program to re-skill and up-skill longshore workers to equip them for the next generation of work on the waterfront.”
   The
negotiations for the automated cargo-handling equipment spurred a larger debate about the future of work at the port. But APMT credited Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti for brokering the deal between the two sides.
   “Mayor Garcetti was insistent throughout the process that the modernization of Pier 400 could not be completed without ensuring that the ILWU is equipped with the training and skills to ensure that the Port of Los Angeles continues to be the most competitive and greenest gateway in the Western Hemisphere,” APM said.
   Garcetti’s office issued a statement on Friday saying that a blue ribbon commission was being established ” to study and make recommendations on the future of work at the Port of Los Angeles” and “will form the basis for an ongoing effort to ensure a competitive, sustainable Port that continues to generate good, middle-class jobs.
   Another terminal in Los Angeles operated by TraPac already is equipped with automated straddle carriers.

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Michael Angell, Bulk and Intermodal Editor

Michael Angell covers maritime, intermodal and related topics for FreightWaves. His interest in transportation stretches back several generations. One great-grandfather was a dray horseman along the New York waterfront and another was a railway engineer in Texas. More recently, Michael has written about the shipping industry for TradeWinds, energy markets for Oil Price Information Service, and general business topics for FactSet Mergerstat and Investor's Business Daily. When he is not stuck in the office, he enjoys tours of ports, terminals, and railyards.

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