Shipping company to continue calling on Portland

By OPB News

PORTLAND — Hanjin Shipping Company announced Monday that it will continue doing business at the Port of Portland despite ongoing labor disputes.

More than 650 local jobs are connected to the South Korean Shipping Line.

Businesses and shippers around the state have been waiting for this decision. Hanjin announced last year a review of the Portland market and the potential to withdraw their weekly service.

The Port of Portland approved an incentive program earlier this year to encourage ocean carriers like Hanjin to keep doing business with the port.

Hanjin and other carriers will receive a payment for each container that's moved through Portland.

The plan is only for this year and will pay out no more than $4 million. The port says the program is funded through rents collected by the terminal's operator.

Josh Thomas is with the Port of Portland. He says that if the carrier doesn't stay with the port the money will not be paid.

“It is always better to retain an existing longtime customer like Hanjin than to go out and try to attract another carrier after you've lost your largest one, because it's typically a two-year recruitment time frame,” Thomas said.

Hanjin indicated last year that the turmoil between Terminal 6 operator International Container Terminal Services and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union could prompt the carrier to go elsewhere on the West Coast.

The Port says the continuing dispute over wages, hours and work rules had led to low productivity and rising costs.

Jennifer Sargent, with Longshore and Warehouse Union, said “This is the result the union expected.”

She went on to say the terminal operator is squeezing labor, government and shipping lines worldwide. And she criticized what she called subsidies to entice Hanjin to stay.

ICTSI Oregon directed all questions about Hanjin's decision to the Port.

Thomas says Hanjin's agreement to stay is a step in the right direction.

“We're not completely out of the woods here. And so, there's still work to be done to restore the levels of productivity that we've seen historically at the container terminal.”

In a press release, Hanjin said it will review its performance at the port on a quarterly basis. Hanjin blames labor turmoil at the port over two years for inefficiencies.

Governor John Kitzhaber says he's pleased that Hanjin has made the decision to provide certainty for companies that rely upon its service.

Port officials say that Hanjin handles nearly 80 percent of the traffic at Portland's Terminal 6.

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