Dec 08

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It’s the same old theme since nineteen-sixteen In your head, in your head, they’re still fighting…

5 minute read
James Byrne
It’s the same old theme since nineteen-sixteen In your head, in your head, they’re still fighting… Featured Image

Wasn’t it December 1st like yesterday? Another Market Update 1,031 words, and a 5 minute read – let’s do this. 

After reading 100s of articles and going down the Union discussion boards rabbit hole, I feel like I eat, sleep, breathe and dream about the rail and longshore workers negotiations. I have opinions for sure, but whether they lean to pro or anti-Union, I’ll keep them to myself. But for real I want to come back as a Union president in my next life. Negotiating is one of life’s greatest highs! From all the banter I have been reading on those discussion boards, it seems union members are overheating with the rail contract outcome. I would not be at all surprised if that will cause some rifts in any pending contracts.  Believe me, my 2 ex Union steward uncles were very passionate about getting their way. Let’s see what is in store between the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association. There are rumors of that contract being finalized by February or March of 2023. I know there are a lot of positive spins on the ILWU contract talks, but I also sense drama. Stay tuned. 

Is Dallas no longer flexin’ on the market?

BNSF is continuing to run quite smoothly with nearly all containers being placed onto a chassis once fresh off the train. Driver detention is at a minimum with maybe 30 minute waits every so often. Improvements at the Union Pacific in Dallas have been made, likely due to the volume slow down, especially from the west coast. Most of the containers coming into Dallas on the rail are no longer being grounded, and are routinely flipped to a chassis right away. The UP is still working to dig out remaining stacked containers and drivers have still reported wait times of around up to 5 hours while waiting for the UP to dig out stacked containers. Compared to 10+ hours last month – honestly – 5 hours is not horrible, as crazy as it sounds. 

The BNSF option is still the better option over the UP in Dallas. If your container is in the 1% that does get grounded, BNSF still has the more efficient process to get it flipped onto a private chassis. 

With the volume decrease across the board, the rail system will become more efficient as time goes by and less congestion occurs. One of our Dallas dispatchers said that it has gotten better and it just depends on the person assisting the driver. “Some are willing to really help and others just won’t” (I think she may have some beef with a UP worker) but that is a good point – the attitudes of the rail workers could also determine the situation. Could less sick leave time in the contracts leave rail workers acting extra? 

TEU Volume went down again this week, down 12.8% from last week. I mean, it is December, so a decrease is a common trend for the industry, but these volumes seem painfully low this quarter. Labor availability seems exceptionally low at all ports from what I have been reading this week, possibly due to labor hours being cut, December being a hot month for employee vacations or a result of cold and flu season. One good thing is that with an import volume slow down, port congestion should be really clearing up in early 2023 and heading to the no port congestion fee zone. We love that! 

What is going on at the ports this week?

Houston: Imports into Houston are slightly up this week and labor availability is low. I have received reports of slight chassis shortages and longer driver wait times. Don’t forget the Sustained Import Dwell Fee started on December 1st in Houston. The fee will start day 8 after free time expires.

LA/LGB : There is a shortage of gensets and it is still slow to secure appointments for empty returns. Trucking queues can sometimes prevent drivers from pulling loads during allotted appointment times – if the appointment window expires, truckers will need to secure a new appointment. The Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach Container Dwell Fee is on hold until Dec 16, 2022. This is separate from individual terminal dwell fee agreements on long dwelling units. Long Beach is removing the weekend exemption for free time effective September 1st, 2022. Free time will be inclusive of Saturdays and Sundays (except on legal holidays) when a container terminal in Long Beach is open on either of those days.

Oakland: There is still some slight congestion and low labor availability. Yard utilization is at a whopping 78% of capacity. Empty container returns are still problematic creating some lingering chassis shortages.

New Orleans:  There are reports of heavy chassis shortages with virtually no 40′ chassis available. Also reports of vessel delays due to fog from earlier in the week but looks to be clear as of this morning, 1 container ship remains at berth.

Savannah: Vessel wait times are being reported at 12 days due to berth congestion, there are 13 container ships currently at Savannah. Even with that being said, containers are still moving fluidly and we have plenty of capacity!

Vancouver: Yard utilization is very high at 72% capacity. The port is also experiencing additional delays for rail traffic and some vessel delays. There are 7 container ships and 46 bulk vessels currently at anchor as of this morning.

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Import Volume Charts

James Byrne