Oct 13

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Oh No! A Rail Strike Can Still Happen – Let’s Talk Transloads and Get Ahead of the Drama

5 minute read
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The News

While I was painfully paying bills last night and happily putting together numbers this morning, the calendar reminded me again that after this weekend this month will be half over. 2022 really is closing out so fast. But before we can enjoy turkey or tofurkey and continue the gluttonous fun of the holidays, the midterm elections have to take place… Never mind, I will keep the political commentary to minimum, let’s talk about rail issues…

Almost 12,000 railroad workers represented by the Brotherhood of Maintenance of Way Employees Division (BMWED,) voted on whether to ratify a tentative labor agreement with national rail companies, sending the parties back to the negotiating table and reigniting the possibility of a strike with more than 6,600 choosing to reject it.

“BMWED members are concerned with the direction of their employers and the mismanagement and greed in which they have consistently implemented, and are united in their resolve to improve their working conditions across the entire Class I rail network,” BMWED President Tony Cardwell said in a statement.

The Brotherhood of Locomotive Engineers and Trainmen (BLET), has yet to hold its election which is scheduled to wrap up around November 17th and will maintain the status quo until at least November 19th – five days after the anticipated November 14th return of Congress following mid-term elections. 

The proposed contracts would cover workers at BNSF Railway Co., CSX Transportation Inc., Kansas City Southern Railway Co., Norfolk Southern Railway Co., Union Pacific Railroad and the U.S. railroads owned directly or indirectly by Canadian National, which are all represented in negotiations by the National Railway Labor Conference. A work stoppage by any of the rail unions, however, can be expected to cause a nationwide rail shutdown. Carriers also could trigger such a shutdown by locking out the work force if a work stoppage is initiated against just one railroad. There has not been a nationwide rail shutdown since 1992. 

BLET National President, Dennis Pierce, released a statement about the vote over the weekend, seeking to dispel “misinformation” about the proposed contract.

“There are groups, many from outside our union, working overtime pushing outright lies about the tentative agreement, how it was reached and what the membership should do next,” Pierce said in the statement.

Rail dwell times are already volatile, bottlenecks at inland have caused major delays for loading intermodal containers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The average amount of time rail-bound containers are dwelling at Southern California ports hit an all-time high of 16.5 days in August, up from 16.4 days in July, according to the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association (PMSA).

And it’s only going to get worse as rail terminals anticipate and prepare for a potential extra-long work break. We highly advise getting ahead of the game by contacting your steamship line to divert rail containers and alternatively arranging to pull from the ports for transloading and road delivery for faster service.  Did you know? – This is what we specialize in!

Contact us today, the early birds will get the Port X Logistics worm. If you are new to the transload world and want some guidance, we love to talk about what we do – Contact us today at letsgetrolling@portxlogistics.com.

The pre-holiday time seems to be starting, the ports will be busy, and vessels are getting delayed. One vessel, that I have been tracking to NY/NJ,     has gone from a port ETA of October 8th to now arrival of late October 14th. Even with the Monday holiday, TEU volumes increased this week by a pretty substantial amount – up a crazy 39.8% from last week.

What are the port hardships this week?

  • Baltimore There has been a recent shortage of union shift workers, causing long wait times for drivers and gates to shut down early some days last week. Tough news for Baltimore container haulers also, if they don’t get to pick up their load, they don’t get paid either. The reason for the union labor shortage is unclear, but we will closely monitor in the upcoming days.
  • Houston is running slow due to congestion, whether outside in the lines or inside dropping and picking up containers. Some days are better than others. There is still a shortage of chassis, 40′ chassis are especially scarce.
  • LA/LGB I know I sound like a broken record, but rail piles remain atrocious. Also, one thing to pay attention to is the empty return restrictions, they continue to change on the fly.

What looks a positive this week?

  • Savannah We are awesome in Savannah, we have the capacity and warehouse labor and space to bang out transloads quickly and efficiently. We love a good challenge and want to double our September transload count, let us be your Savannah heroes! 
  • NY/NJ Heavy congestion and wait times still remain, especially with PNCT, however the empty return situation is improving with more steamship lines. A step in the right direction.
  • Charleston Even with the heavy volumes, the port is flowing smoothly. There is an increase in exports in Charleston only causing minor delays for the time being.

Did you know? Port X Logistics has been Certified™ by Great Place to Work® for 2022! Our founder, Brian Kempisty, started Port X Logistics to give the Leadership Team a better life, and we work hard to pay it forward to our employees. Culture is one of the important pillars of what our brand is built on and we can’t wait to keep building our team of elite logistics professionals: https://lnkd.in/gEbbNEgC

Check out the sonar images below or reach out to the leadership team via letsgetrolling@portxlogistics.com for any questions or concerns.

~ Jill Rice

Sonar Images