Patrick Howley reports:
A union leader exposed the role that “foreign-owned shipping companies” play in the cargo backup at the Port of Los Angeles, which is causing supply chain shortages in the United States. The union leader said that “foreign-owned shipping companies” that own the terminals at the Port of Los Angeles have not been requesting union labor at a high enough rate for quite some time, thus slowing down the process of hauling and transporting goods off ships. The biggest foreign-owned company running the biggest cargo terminal at the Port of Los Angeles is Maersk, which has many Chinese offices and does massive business in China. Just weeks ago, Maersk sold its refrigerated container business for over $1 billion to a Chinese company that counts multiple Chinese Communist government state-owned enterprises as its major shareholders, giving China more control over our food and pharma supply.
In response to the supply chain crisis, U.S. Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo recently stated, “the reality is that the only way we get to a place where we work through this transition is if everyone in America and everywhere around the world gets vaccinated.” Clearly, this has led to speculation that the supply chain shortages are being manipulated in order to push the vaccine agenda. The Biden administration has touted a supposed deal it negotiated to help the Port of Los Angeles to operate 24/7 to offload the backed-up cargo. But one union leader said that union workers are already capable of working 24/7. The problem, in his view, is that “foreign-owned shipping companies” are not requesting labor.
Frank Ponce De Leon, who serves as an International Longshore & Warehouse Union coast committeeman in Los Angeles, said the following: “Well, I think it’s important to let people know that our workforce and our contracts allow the employers and the terminal operators to work 24 hours a day. We have that capability, I mean, since the day I got registered and started working on the docks some 40 years ago. So it’s not something that’s brand-new. So the push by the ports and the push by Biden’s administration is actually a push in the direction, trying to get others who are involved in the supply chain moving so that we can hopefully ease up some of this congestion…You have to understand that these terminals are owned by foreign-owned shipping companies. And a lot of times, they dictate or control what we do on the docks. We don’t just show up, you know, unannounced and say, we’re ready to go to work. What normally happens is that orders are placed within our joint dispatch halls for labor at a specific terminal or terminals. And we fill that labor and go to work. Without the employer and without the terminal operators ordering us, we don’t show up. So a lot of this is out of our control. And we’ve been facing this for a long, long time now.”
So who are these “foreign-owned shipping companies” exactly? According to the Port of Los Angeles: “The Port of Los Angeles is managed and operated by the Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners, established in 1907. A five-member Board of Harbor Commissioners is appointed by the Mayor and sanctioned by the Los Angeles City Council. The west basin container terminal is operated by West Basin Container Terminal LLC. The container terminal at berths 135 through 139 is operated by TransPacific Container Service Corporation (TraPac). The seaside terminal at berths 226 through 236 is operated by Seaside Transportation Services. APL Terminals operates global gateway south terminal and pier 400 is operated by APM Terminals. Some of the other operators of the port facilities include Stevedoring Services of America, Pasha Group, Kinder Morgan, ConocoPhillips, Nustar Energy, ExxonMobil and Shell.”
APM Terminals brags that “APM Terminals Los Angeles is the largest container port terminal in the Western Hemisphere, featuring over 507 acres of world-class infrastructure.” APM Terminals is also pushing the vaccine, recently announcing: “The Management of APM Terminals Liberia, in partnership with the Ministry of Health, set up a dedicated team to have terminal employees, subcontractors and all Port users in the Freeport of Monrovia who have not taken the COVID-19 vaccine yet to get vaccinated with the Johnson & Johnson (Janssen) vaccine.”
It just so happens that APM Terminals is owned by Maersk, which does massive business in China and is based in the Hague, Netherlands. Maersk has been criticized for the labor conditions at its Chinese plants. Maersk has numerous offices in China including in Beijing and states: “As the leading container shipping company in China (including Hong Kong), we have connected Chinese businesses to the world for nearly a century. We are present at 36 ports, and provide you with a seamless connection to our unrivalled global fleet.”
In late September of this year, Maersk signed a carbon-cutting partnership in Beijing with China Classification Society, an organization officially approved by the Chinese Communist government to survey ships that display the flag of China. Also in late September of this year, Maersk announced that it is selling its refrigerated container business for over $1 billion to China International Marine Containers (CIMC), which states that its “main shareholders are China Merchants Group, China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company, Hony Capital, etc.” Among its top shareholders listed on its website, the first two are Chinese state-owned companies: China Merchants Group is a Chinese Communist government state-owned company that is run by the Chinese Ministry of Transport. China Ocean Shipping (Group) Company was a Chinese state-owned company that now operates as COSCO, which is a Chinese state-owned company. What could that potentially mean for Chinese influence on our food supply? Just to be clear, according to the Port of Los Angeles, “Any imported perishable goods that come through the Port arrive in refrigerated containers, which are easily identifiable and expedited for unloading.”
Not surprisingly, Maersk is saying that the supply chain problems are going to continue throughout the rest of 2021. A Maersk market update stated: “China’s October Golden Week, Christmas and Chinese New Year will bolster strong demand for container shipping for the last quarter of 2021. But port congestion, especially in the US and Europe, and service delays are expected to create headwinds for service schedules…Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach congestion levels continue to deteriorate as we move further into peak season with 70+ vessels waiting at anchorage recently. Labour restrictions coupled with high throughput volumes remain the primary constraint.” Maersk has previously engaged in battles against International Longshore and Warehouse Union workers at the Port of Los Angeles because workers did not want robotic automation replacing their jobs, but Maersk was determined to push automation into practice.
As for the other “foreign-owned shipping companies” that operate terminals at the Port of Los Angeles, here’s some information. Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation runs the West Basin Container Terminal LLC. According to the Port of Los Angeles: “Yang Ming Marine Transport Corporation is a marine transport company that operates the West Basin Container Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. Yang Ming has been a Port of Los Angeles tenant since 1996. Headquartered in Taiwan, Yang Ming operates a fleet of nearly 100 vessels with locations all over the world. Transliterated from its two Chinese characters 陽明, Yang Ming refers to the sun and lightness. Yang is the sun, and Ming is the combination of the sun and the moon and often denotes brightness, clarity, or enlightenment.”
Meanwhile, TransPacific Container Service Corporation (TraPac) is owned by Mitsui OSK Lines in Japan, which founded TraPac in 1985 as a “wholly owned subsidiary” and signed a 30-year contract extension for its Port of Los Angeles container terminal in 2009.
The Port of Los Angeles lists “WHERE CAN I GET VACCINATED?” on its pandemic “FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS” page.