In the January edition of Rolling Your Way, we talked quite a bit about snow and flooding…what was here, what was coming. Well, we are not done talking about it yet. The above picture was captured after a recent multi-day road closure on I-80 over Donner Summit. Below is video of a driver trying to navigate the same icy roadways.
Please remember, if you have cargo destined or originating in the Reno/Sparks area, please expect delays, and if you are traveling in that direction for fun, please drive safely.
When we talk about terminal productivity, we are talking about yard and gate operations, meaning how quickly we can get a driver in and out of the terminal. When terminal operators and ocean carriers talk about terminal productivity, they are talking about vessel operations, that is how quickly they can work a vessel, get containers discharged/loaded and get the ship back out to sea.
In Oakland, and around the country, we have been plagued by poor terminal productivity…our type of productivity…the one that ties our hands and disables us from getting drivers turned and containers picked up and delivered. We have discussed this issue in our monthly newsletters for the past year. The delays. The congestion. The frustration. The driver exodus. It has gotten so bad the FMC is even looking into the problem.
But, what can we do to fix it? The answer isn’t something the industry wants to hear. Pay more.
Terminal operators need more robust incomes in order to provide the service and operating hours necessary to move containers in a fluid and efficient manner. Additionally, we are going to have to pay our drivers more to compensate them for the lack of turns they are able to achieve.
We were calling it “Our Summer of Discontent,” but we are fast approaching winter and the discontent hasn’t let up. The issues with terminal mergers and the resulting upheaval have created roadblocks we continue to struggle through today. Drivers are wary of the delays and inconsistent service. Their nerves are frayed, their frustration grows and many are fed up and choosing to leave the industry.
To add fuel to the already raging fire, there continues to be on-going driver protests. There have been three staged blockades at the Port of Oakland since August with the latest being the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Friday after, November 27th and 29th. The protests have been organized by the Port of Oakland Trucker Association (POTA), which is a group of independent contractors serving the port. They continue to fight for a delay to the California Air Resources Board (CARB) impending truck retirement deadline as well as pressure the port to pay a $50/container Green Truck Fee and a $50/hour Congestion Fee. Neither of which will happen.
The port has been working with motor carriers and cargo owners to encourage pay advancements to drivers in order to help defray the costs of the newer, more expensive equipment. They are not, however, going to let the protests stop commerce. The port has filed an injunction against the protesters and has been closely coordinating with the City of Oakland and the Oakland Police Department to keep the gates clear and open. The sticky wicket to productivity on these protest days is to what extent the ILWU will honor their picket lines. Despite an arbitrator ruling there is no health and safety concerns as a result of the demonstrations, ILWU, and therefore productivity, is nevertheless hampered.