Princess, Holland America settle Seattle dockside power issue with longshore union

Puget Sound Business Journal – by Steve Wilhelm

Date: Wednesday, June 15, 2011, 2:54pm PDT – Last Modified: Wednesday, June 15, 2011, 3:44pm PDT

  • Cruise ship power cables at Port of Seattle
    Dan Schlatter photo

    These cables, carrying 11,000 volts, will power cruise ships while at dock.

Holland America Line Inc.bizWatch Holland America Line Inc. Latest from The Business Journals Carnival to slow growth, focus on returnsCarnival to slow growth, focus on returnsLarry Calkins: Large Private Company CFO of the Year Finalist Follow this company and Princess CruisesbizWatch Princess Cruises Latest from The Business Journals Carnival plans new ship for U.K. marketThe region’s top companies saw revenue skyrocket with price of oilCarnival to slow growth, focus on returns Follow this company will be switching back to shore power June 25, after resolving a months-long struggle with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 19, over jurisdiction.

Currently, the two cruise lines are running their ships’ diesel generators while at the Port of Seattle’s Terminal 91, while contractors upgrade the 11,000-volt shore power system to be handled by longshore workers.

The first ships capable of hooking to shore power arrived the first week of May, said Mike McLaughlin, director of cruise and maritime operations for the Port of Seattle. Connecting ships to shore power is called “cold ironing” in maritime lingo.

McLaughlin said port officials are relieved that the cruise lines and union have resolved the issue, because operating a low-emissions facility is an important priority for the Port of Seattle.

“To reduce emissions in this harbor, this is an important process we want to see continued,” he said, adding that cold ironing is “consistent with the vision laid out several years ago by the CEO, to be the cleanest and greenest and most energy-efficient port.”

The essence of the issue was longshore union resistance to having non-longshore workers on the docks, touched off last fall by the fact that the cruise lines had been bringing in electricians to make the connections when ships came in.

Keeping control of the ocean terminals has always been central to the longshore strategy of maintaining a strong union presence on the waterfront, and is an issue that has been fought out over decades. In the 1930s,
longshoremen physically battled police
, and sometimes Teamsters, over control of the docks.

In this case, things were settled more peaceably, through arbitration.

Under the agreement, ILWU workers will “perform all plugging and unplugging of vessels,” said Cameron Williams, president of ILWU Local 19. He added that cruise lines and the union are now working in “good faith” since the arbitrator reached a decision May 10.

Executives from Princess and Holland America lines declined to comment directly on the resolution, although Princess publicist Karen Candy released a statement that said in part: “We’ve invested millions of dollars in outfitting our ships with the technology to use shore power when available and we anticipate being able to use it again before the end of June.”

Princess spent $1.5 million for cold ironing equipment originally installed at Terminal 30 and now operating at Terminal 91, and it costs about $500,000 to outfit a ship to use it, Candy said.

Princess spends about $5,000 a day to purchase 100 megawatts per day to operate a ship, according to a Princess fact sheet. Diesel costs are comparable.

The port spent $670,000 moving the power equipment from Terminal 30 to Terminal 91 several years ago, said port spokesman Peter McGraw. Carnival and Royal Caribbean cruise lines also call at Terminal 91, but those ships currently can’t use shore power.

STEVE WILHELM covers manufacturing, aerospace and trade for the Puget Sound Business Journal. Phone: 206-876-5427 | Email: swilhelm@bizjournals.com | Twitter: stevewilhelm108 | Click here to sign up for the PSBJ Daily Update.

~ by fredfelleman on July 1, 2011.

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