West Coast Port employers praise automation ahead of job interviews

West Coast Port employers praise automation ahead of job interviews

By Augusta Saraiva

(Bloomberg) – West Coast Ports Employers at the Center of the US Supply Chain Crisis Released a Study Highlighting the Benefits of Automation One Week Before Job Interviews Begin Where the Problem Should Be Present .

Hours paid at the two automated terminals of the San Pedro Bay complex, which includes the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, have increased by 31.5% since 2015. According to the study, that’s more than double the guided non-automated 11 terminals. by Professor Michael Nacht of the University of California at Berkeley, published Monday.

Since 2019, automated terminals, which feature software-assisted cranes, autonomous vehicles and digital checkpoints, among other things, have processed containers twice as fast as conventional ones.

“Contrary to ILWU concerns, automation in San Pedro Bay ports has added work, not at its expense,” wrote Nacht and co-author Larry Henry, referring to the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. “A greater scope of freight will create port-related jobs and add jobs along the supply chain. On the contrary, the lack of adaptation threatens to carry goods to other ports, with a cascading loss of jobs on the docks and throughout the regional economy “.

The study was commissioned by the Pacific Maritime Association, which acts as a labor broker for carriers and terminal companies in 29 west coast ports, and has long fought for their right to automation.

Automation is “the key to long-term survival, long-term competitiveness,” PMA chief executive Jim McKenna said in an interview last month. “If we don’t do anything, we’re done.”

Talks between PMA and ILWU to define a new employment contract for 22,000 West Coast dock workers will begin on May 12. Automation has gained space over time in ILWU-PMA contracts, with the 2008 pact agreeing to allow fully mechanized and robotic navigation at terminals.

ILWU “accepted the right of terminals to automate, but, concerned about job losses, resisted efforts to introduce the technology,” the study authors wrote.

As the parties come together to negotiate the contract that will expire on July 1, workers are believed to have additional leverage as carriers report record profits in a tight market. In addition, the twin ports have moved unprecedented quantities of freight during the supply chain crisis.

ILWU coastal committee member Frank Ponce de Leon called the report a “selfish document.”

“The bottom line is that automation has destroyed jobs along the coast,” he said in a statement. “The increased productivity that PMA is claiming at the two automated terminals has meant less work in other terminals and an overall loss of work for the mainland workers. We have not seen a general increase in productivity in ports, just a shell game to mask the human cost of job destruction. ”

Long Beach Port Executive Director Mario Cordero dismissed the notion of automation as a key to improving productivity in ports in an interview last week. He said the supply chain will only become more efficient if operations start running 24/7.

“I don’t see automation as a major obstacle to achieving the efficiency we need,” said Cordero. “For me, the main obstacle is the lack of turning this supply chain into a 24/7 framework. The model we’ve had of essentially working, gates open 8am to 6pm and some night gates, that model doesn’t work when you have 20 million containers. “

Only four U.S. ports currently have automated terminals, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, which handle approximately 42% of all U.S. containerized trade with East Asia. The twin hubs both rank in the bottom 25 of the World Bank and IHS Markit’s 351-member container port performance index.

© 2022 Bloomberg LP

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.