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About: Michael Wilson

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WORKERS INQUIRY: Variation on Marx (1880)

Adaptation of 1880 publication by Karl Marx titled “A Workers Inquiry.”

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OE: LA/LB Port Strike

For nine days in November/December 2012, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach lay sleeping. Fifteen container vessels sat anchored off the coast. We were told that “featherbedding” will not be tolerated and the management complains of operational “nightmares”. The supply chain oneiric aspires toward an efficiency it can never obtain under capitalism, but it won’t ever be able to believe this. Instead, it intends to produce/instrumentalize more docile and flexible humans—and fewer of them.

The clerical workers of the main Southern California ports struck against this logic. According to “Bloomberg” (the man, the business organ), the workers were hurting no one but themselves. Their economic impact to industry was $2.5 billion per day — yet, “Bloomberg’s” chief concern had, of course, nothing to do with market impact—the true concern was for their beloved truckers… “They’re dying,” says the organ.

The clerical workers have arisen. They struck to protect themselves from the company axe. Management hopes to outsource or casualize the labor force in order to adhere to Lean dogma—an efficiency imperative with it’s roots in Taylorism’s scrupulous accounting of non-essential action, but made even more sadistic by the newer ‘just-in-time’ gospel of late-capitalist globalization. Essentially, value is denied whenever workers stand idle. Ironically, 800 clerks triggered a chain reaction of idleness—a repudiation of the new rhetoric of the ‘value chain’. Their picket lines weren’t crossed by their comrades on the docks—and the entry point for nearly half of all goods flowing into the U.S. was effectively at rest—asleep in the harbor.

What if this idleness spreads? Then the nightmares of management and capital will intensify. The man (quoted above) who speaks of nightmares is a logistics operative in the Southern California trade corridor. One of his specialties is the importation of hunting trophies—animals of distinction that were killed elsewhere and that must now enter the country as sculpture. This section of their website includes informative features on “hunting drones” and “hunting the pressure” created by other hunters—the technocratic management of animal death.

photos: (a subsidiary of Coppersmith Global Logistics)


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Port of Prince Rupert


The Prince Rupert Container Terminal is a 59.4-acre facility with a single 360-meter (1,181-foot) berth with a depth of 18.7 meters (61.4 feet) along side. The terminal has a design capacity of 500,000 TEUs annually. The terminal handled 265,259 TEUs in 2009.

The container yard has a capacity of 9,000 TEUs and 72 refrigerated container (“reefer”) plugs. The terminal’s intermodal yard has 6,100 meters (20,000 feet) of track with a capacity of 400 TEUs. There are seven working tracks for loading and unloading of containers and six storage tracks. The terminal is served by the Canadian National Railway.

General information:

Port Authority/Commission: Prince Rupert Port Authority

Name and location of Major Container Terminal(s):

Total Area: 24 Hectares (59.4 Acres)
Operational Capacity: 750,000 TEUs
Length: >360 metres (1181 feet)
Berths: 1
Water Depth: 18.7 metres (61.4 feet)
Container Yard: Handle 9,000 TEUs, 72 Reefer plugs
Intermodal Yard: 6100 metres (20,000 feet) of trackage; 400 TEUs
Rail Services: 7 working tracks, 6 storage tracks 5,182 metres (17,000) train capacity serviced directly by CN intercontinental railway
Equipment: – Three 1,800 tonne super post panamax cranes; 22 container wide reach
– 17 reach stackers/toplifts
– 27 multi-trailer systems (triples); 50 single chasses, extensive mobile equipment
– 72 reefer plugs at 480V/60AMP
– 4 radiation portals

Non-Container Terminal(s):

  • Canadian National Railroad Intermodal Yard, 3100 Scott Road (from Highway 16 West), Prince Rupert, BC V8J 3P4. The Port is a terminus station of CN Rail, a major Class 1 North American carrier. CN’s rail line travels along the Northwest Transportation Corridor through the most moderate rail grade in the Canadian Rockies (around 1%) and on to North America’s heartland through Chicago before arriving in New Orleans on the Gulf of Mexico.

Port Rupert railroad map

Demographics of surrounding area:

Canada 2011 Census Population  % of Total Population
Visible minority group
South Asian 410 3.3%
Chinese 190 1.5%
Black 90 0.7%
Filipino 210 1.7%
Latin American 0 0%
Arab 0 0%
Southeast Asian 360 2.9%
West Asian 0 0%
Korean 0 0%
Japanese 125 1%
Other visible minority 0 0%
Mixed visible minority 20 0.2%
Total visible minority population 1,425 11.5%
Aboriginal group
First Nations 4,115 33.3%
Métis 330 2.7%
Inuit 0 0%
Total Aboriginal population 4,375 35.4%
White 6,560 53.1%
Total population 12,360 100%

Economics of Port:

Port expansion plans: Expansion of the terminal is planned that would quadruple the capacity of the terminal to two million TEUs to meet the demands of continued growth in Asia-Pacific traffic trade.

The Fairview Container Terminal Development — Phase 2

The vision of the future includes the expansion of the Fairview Container Terminal to quadruple the capacity of the facility to 2 million TEUs. The project will extend the wharf to 800 metres, achieve an 18 metre (59 feet) minimum water depth, increase the dock area to 56 hectares (139 acres), and quadruple to eight the number of post-panamax cranes. The expanded facility will have an on-site storage capacity of 28,560 TEUs at five high.
Phase 2 engineering design, environmental assessment and consultation are well underway.

Warehouses or distribution center complexes that service this port:

• n/a

Environmental Issues

News stories

Environmental problems (water/air/noise/traffic/lights):

Environmental public concerns/interests/protests/lawsuits about port expansion or operations:

At the Prince Rupert Port Authority, we’re serious about environmental stewardship.

In all of its activities, the Port Authority is guided by key principles of environmental sustainability, including pollution prevention, preservation of environmental integrity, efficient use of resources, and continuous improvement.

This means complying with all applicable legislation, regulations, standards and internal policies, practices and procedures. Wherever technically and economically feasible, environmental best management practices will be integrated into operations and facilities.

Environmental conditions in the Port are documented and monitored on an ongoing basis, which enables the identification and assessment of environmental impacts arising from Port development and operations. The Port Authority is committed to take action to mitigate adverse environmental impacts arising from development and operations, and to build considerations of environmental sustainbility into planning, decision-making, and management processes.

The Prince Rupert Port Authority collaborates with other Port stakeholders. This includes working with Port tenants and users to promote their compliance with the established policies, practices, procedures, and guidelines.

Green Marine — the first west coast port member of the “Green Marine” Environmental Stewardship program.

Shore Power — allows container ships to power down diesel engines and connect with clean electricity on shore.

Port Carbon Assessment — an independent third party found that the Port of Prince Rupert has the lowest carbon footprint of five North American west coast gateways.



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MOL Comfort

Container ship MOL COMFORT broke in two and sank in Arabian sea on June 17 2013, about 430nm southeast of Salalah, further details unknown. The 26 crew were rescued, but the ship and it’s cargo were declared a total loss.

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Port of Kalama, WA

Total trade: 10,116,131

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Port of Vancouver, Washington

Total Trade: 6,972,583

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Port of Anacortes, Washington

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Port of Richmond


Download Terminal Map

Port Of Oakland owns and operates airport and seaport facilities. Its airport handles passenger and cargo transportation. The company also leases and rents facilities for railroad and trucking operations for transporting import and export cargo. In addition, it involves in the management of commercial developments, as well as public parks and conservation areas. The company was founded in 1927 and is based in Oakland, California.

Deputy Executive Director of Finance
Chief Audit Officer
Chief Engineer and Director
Secretary of the Board
Director of Corporate Administrative Services


General information:

Port Authority/Commission: Port of Oakland

Name and location of Major Container Terminal(s):

  • 30-32: TraPac Terminal, 2800 7th Street, Oakland, CA 94607
  • 33-34: 3050 7th Street, Oakland, CA 94607 (510) 627-1308
  • 35-38: Ben E. Nutter Terminal (STS/Evergreen), 5190 7th Street, Oakland, CA 94607
  • 55-56: TTI Terminal (Hanjin), 2505 Middle Harbor Road, Oakland, CA 94607
  • 57-59: Oakland International Container Terminal (SSAT), 1717 Middle Harbor Road, Oakland, CA 94607
  • 67-68: Charles P. Howard Terminal (Matson), 1 Market Street, Oakland, CA 94607
  • Burlington Northern Sante Fe Railway, 333 Maritime Street, Oakland, CA 94607
  • Union Pacific Railroad Intermodal Yard, 1408 Middle Harbor Road, Oakland, CA 94607


Demographics of surrounding area:

Average household size 2.48, Average family size 3.43, In labor force (16yrs +) 65.3%, Median household income $48,596, Families below poverty level 15.3%, Total population 362,342, Race: White 36.9%, Black/African-American 29.8%, American Indian/Alaska Native 0.6%, Asian 15.6%, Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander 0.5%, Other Race 12.9%, Hispanic/Latino 25.2%.


Economics of Port:

Rank in North American Container Volume by TEUs in 2013 (from AAPA): #5

Annual Container Throughput 2012
Inbound Loaded TEU’s 791,624
Outbound Loaded TEU’s 986,760
Inbound Empty TEU’s 271,212
Outbound Empty TEU’s 294,796
Total 2,344,392

Port expansion:

The Port of Oakland recently completed a $600 million expansion at the seaport. This encompassed 2 new marine terminals, an intermodal rail terminal, realignment of roadways, dredging, and a 38+ acre public waterfront park for education and wetland estuary. Construction began in September 2001, completing in December 2009.

Expansion was meant to accommodate the latest generation of container vessels. The design vessel for the project is a container ship that transports over 6500 twenty-foot equivalent units (TEU’s) of containers. It has a design draft (depth in the water) of 46 ft., is 1,139 ft. long, and 140 ft. wide. Rhetoric around the expansion maintained that it was essential to the port’s status as internationally-competitive. The dredging project was said to ‘maintain and improve Oakland’s position as an international cargo gateway’.


Connected facilities:

Intermodal facilities connected to port:

Joint intermodal terminal completed in May 2, 2002 near-dock rail facilities to make the port more convenient for shippers and competitive with other west coast ports. It’s being operated by Burlington Northern and Santa Fe Rails Company (BNSF) as the Oakland International Gateway.

Warehouses or distribution center complexes that service this port:

• Import Distribution Center, Lathrop, CA
• Trader Joes and Crown Bolt, Stockton, CA

Environmental Issues

News stories

Environmental problems (water/air/noise/traffic/lights):

January 26, 2010 by Contra Costa Times, entitled “Day II: Health problems persist when options are limited: East Bay ZIP codes lacking middle-class amenities have higher rates of asthma, heart disease and cancer”, talks about East Bay neighborhoods residents dying of heart disease and cancer at three times the rate . West Oakland youths breathe in diesel exhaust from trucks, trains and ships at the port, and the aging homes near the waterfront become magnets for mold. One policy that many believe contributes to the high asthma rates is a truck ban on Interstate 580 in the upscale Oakland hills. This funnels large volumes of truck traffic through low-income communities lining Interstate 880 in west and East Oakland. The ban has existed since the freeway opened more than 40 years ago. In 2000, the California Trucking Association sought to overturn it, but ran into fierce opposition from hillside residents, the city councils of Oakland and San Leandro, and the Alameda County Board of Supervisors. After the public outcry, state lawmakers made the ban permanent. Alameda County health leaders and others have seized on a different target: the Port of Oakland, where they have fought to reduce diesel emissions from trucks, trains and ships. The diesel exhaust has led to a cancer risk in West Oakland that is three times higher than the Bay Area average, the Bay Area Air Quality Management District told federal officials in September. Another article entitled “Cleaner air for Oakland — but no one wants to pay for it”, dated December 16, 2009, talks about the port’s Clean Truck Management Plan (CTMP), The new rules are an effort to address the public health crisis in communities near the port, where diesel exhaust fumes have been contributing to rampant asthma and increased cancer rates. While no one questions the need for cleaner air, there’s still a raging battle over who should pay to overhaul old, dirty trucks — and how to make it possible for small independent truckers not to lose their livelihoods. The Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports of Oakland (CCSP) is campaigning with Teamsters Union members and some truckers and Congress members to take the burden off independent owner- operators. But some say the industry model itself is the problem — that all the drivers should be employees of larger trucking firms that can pay for the latest equipment. Currently the drivers wait, engines idling, an average of 3.6 hours at or in the terminal. That’s in part because they don’t get hourly pay — which gives the shippers and trucking contractors little incentive to hurry things. In some ways, the problem is the result of the 1990s-era deregulation of the trucking industry. The Port of Oakland, the Environmental Protection Agency, and the Bay Area Air Quality Management District set up a grant fund to help drivers retrofit their equipment to meet the new standards, and some did. But others who sold their older trucks and bought upgradeable models lost out when the money ran dry.


Environmental public concerns/interests/protests/lawsuits about port expansion or operations:

“The Herald- Port must limit diesel pollution”, “SFBG- Importing Injustice”, SF Chronicle- Study says diesel emissions raise cancer risk”, “SF Chronicle- Oakland kids see how port pollution hits home”, “SF Chronicle- Big rigs at Port of Oakland linked to health woes”, “Port of Oakland-Day II_ Health problems”, “Cleaner air for Oakland-but no one wants to pay for it”. Advocacy groups- The Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports.


Community Access:

Open port authority meetings



Research: Elba Garcia and Carla Truax (University of Southern California, 2010 – 2011). Updated and expanded by EL.

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Port of Port Elizabeth

The port oversees almost four million tons of cargo a year and thousands of ships use the port to on and off load cargo, or for refueling and repairs. Over and above the motor vehicle parts that move through the Port Elizabeth port, commodities such as timber, wool, citrus, steel and other perishables can be accommodated as a direct train service is able to transport goods immediately.

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Port of Saldanha Bay

The Port of Saldanha Bay was purpose built for iron ore exports in the early 1970s, however the port has significantly diversified its commodity base over the last three decades.

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