New Bill Aims at Avoiding Port Disputes Through Increased Transparency

Ports lowIWLA Washington Representative Pat O’Connor met with the U.S. Senate Commerce Committee staff to review S. 1298, a bill to provide nationally consistent measures of performance in the nation’s ports. This bill is directly related to the recent events on the West Coast and is intended to avoid a similar situation in the future.

The bill is sponsored by Sen. John Thune (R-N.D.), chairman of the Senate Commerce Committee. The bill addresses the lack of data and transparency to quantify problems at ports. The bill’s author hope it will help with early identification of port disruptions caused by labor strife or other factors before they inflict serious damage on businesses and the broader U.S. economy.

1298 requires ports to report performance indicators on a regular basis:

  • to report annually on their performance and capacity using a common set of metrics; and
  • to report more frequently as the expiration date of maritime agreements approaches — from annually to monthly, to help indicate whether labor discussions have impacted operations, the estimated economic impact of such disputes, and roughly how long it will take for shipments to return to normal.

The bill highlights specific data points that are design to indicate performance issues at the port:

  1. Volume of inbound and outbound cargo.
  2. Average number of lifts per hour.
  3. Average vessel unload rate.
  4. Average vessel load rate.
  5. Average vessel turn time.
  6. Port transit time.
  7. Average cargo dwell time.
  8. Average container dwell time.
  9. Port storage capacity and utilization.
  10. Average wait time for trucks inside port.
  11. Average truck time at ports.
  12. Average rail delay at ports.

IWLA supports this legislation and would like it to be as useful as possible to avoid any other labor disputes before they turn into serious problems. Is this list of indicators complete? Are there any other performance metrics that you would want tracked and reviewed? If so, please send them to or call us at 847.813.4699.

Stay tune for more information regarding this bill.

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