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Dec.14, 2015

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INTERNATIONAL MARITIME IMPORTING | EXPORTING | PORTS | CARRIERS | BREAKBULK | GLOBAL LOGISTICS 22 THE JOURNAL OF COMMERCE DECEMBER 14.2015 By Bill Mongelluzzo BENEFICIAL CARGO OWNERS and truckers continue to challenge fees they incurred for the late pickup or return of containers during the West Coast port congestion problems this past year, but with decidedly mixed results. Shipping lines and marine terminals levied millions of dollars in demurrage and detention fees beginning in November 2014 when work slowdowns by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union caused the worst congestion West Coast ports have experienced since the 2002 coastwide con- tract negotiations with the Pacific Maritime Association. Terminals charge demurrage for late pickup containers after allowable free stor- age time expires. Ocean carriers charge per-diem detention for late return of their containers to terminals. According to the Intermodal Association of North America, which administers the Uniform Intermodal Interchange and Facili- ties Agreement, 137 detention claims for late return of equipment were submitted under the UIIA dispute-resolution process. Arbi- tration decisions have been reached for 49 of those claims, IANA said. Four arbitrations were decided in favor of the motor carriers, 28 in favor of the equipment providers for the original invoiced amounts, and 17 were split decisions. Some BCOs chose to take their com- plaints over demurrage and detention charges directly to court. Elkay Plastics, an importer of plastic bags, filed a class-action lawsuit involving more than 1,000 simi- larly situated shippers against 10 terminal operators and 11 equipment providers in Los Angeles-Long Beach, charging the maritime interests violated California law by impos- ing late fees in relation to a labor disruption. The ILWU work slowdowns began in Seattle and Tacoma on Oct. 31, 2014, and spread the next week to Los Angeles, Long Beach and Oakland. Congestion began to build soon after the slowdowns began. Employers responded in early 2015 by eliminating lucrative night and weekend work opportunities for longshoremen, and gridlock ensued. The so-called hard-timing ended immediately after a tentative contract was reached on Feb. 20, but port congestion continued through April. Congestion at marine terminals ham- pers truckers' ability to take delivery of imported containers during the period of free time when containers can be stored at the terminals before late fees are charged. Port tariffs in Southern California provide four days of free storage time for the pickup on imported containers, after which demur- rage is charged. Likewise, when loaded containers are taken to a warehouse or distribution cen- ter for unloading, the BCO must return the empty containers to the equipment provider within a specified time or pay per-diem detention fees. BCOs and their truckers charge in their complaints that West Coast ports were so congested during the six months beginning in early November 2014 that even if trucks SEEKING TO RIGHT 'WRONGFUL' FEES Shippers and truckers continue their battle over West Coast demurrage and detention claims

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