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Legislation Proposed to Limit Train Crew Sizes and Length, Port Strikes Continue to Affect Global Supply Chains, Ocean Carriers Look to Expand Air Cargo Operations.

Apr 13, 2023

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MSC faces possible civil penalty over congestion surcharges. In a filing earlier this month, the Office of Enforcement is recommending that the The Federal Maritime Commission review the tariffs of Mediterranean Shipping Company (MSC) for a “possible civil penalty related to its insistence on continuing to maintain an ‘ambiguous surcharge’ in its tariff for congestion,” according to Maritime Executive. The investigation comes as the FMC is cracking down on unreasonable charges and business practices of major carriers.


Longshoremen back at work after LA and Long Beach port strikes. Workers returned last weekend following two days of intermittent strikes at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach in California. Shippers are uneasy about the prospects for industrial action, as the unions have not agreed new pay terms since an old contract ran out on July 1 last year, according to Splash247.


Four U.S.-Canada border crossings subject to changes and analysis. Federal officials have temporarily extended operating hours at four U.S.- Canada border crossings– three in North Dakota and one in Idaho. For 120 days beginning April 1, U.S. Customs and Border Protection expanded hours of operation from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. at North Dakota’s Maida, Northgate and Sherwood ports of entry and from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. at Idaho’s Porthill POE. CBP intends to conduct an analysis on traffic flow at the end of 120 days because traffic volumes at all four northern POEs remain 39% below pre-pandemic levels. CBP also plans to identify potential alternate POEs and determine fiscally responsible hours of operation at POEs, as well as “review community impacts and consider similar expanded hours at these alternate locations,” according to Transport Topics.


Proposed emission standards would raise heavy truck equipment costs. The Environmental Protection Agency’s new proposed greenhouse gas standards for heavy trucks–aimed at drastically reducing carbon emissions–would boost equipment costs for manufacturers, fleets and owner-operators by an estimated $9 billion, however compliance costs would be reduced to 5.7 billion after factoring in battery tax credits included in the Inflation Reduction Act. The standards would begin in model year (MY) 2028 and extend to MY 2032 according to a 717-page preamble to the proposed rule released this week, and “would govern a range of truck sizes from delivery trucks and dump trucks to freight-hauling day-cab and sleeper-cab trucks.”


Legislation proposed to limit train length and crew sizes. A bill in the Nevada legislature limiting train lengths and a provision requiring train crew sizes of at least two people is now law in Ohio. Assembly Bill No. 456 seeks to prohibit trains more than 7,500 feet long on main lines, which would consist of railroad tracks that see 5 million gross tons or more transported annually, as well as on lines that branch off from the main line, according to FreightWaves. Violating the proposed rule would result in fines of up to $25,000 for the third violation. The bill would directly affect Class I railroads Union Pacific and BNSF who currently operate in Nevada.


Ocean carriers look to expand air cargo operations. During the pandemic, ocean market congestion led many shippers to opt for air freight. Shipping giants including MSC, CMA CGM and A.P. Moller-Maersk either started or expanded air cargo operations in order to take advantage of the opportunities in the market. Despite current air cargo slowdowns, the major carriers are still launching new flight routes and expanding operations. According to a release, Maersk is planning to launch twice weekly flights connecting Chicago (RFD) and Hangzhou (HGH), and South Carolina (GSP) and Shenyang (SHE) using Amerijet-operated 767-300 freighters.


Port strikes continue to affect global supply chains. The number of port strikes and protests around the world quadrupled over the past year to 38 incidents, according to Crisis24, a maritime security consultancy. Worker shortages have prompted shipping lines to divert or delay cargoes globally. You can find a useful risk map detailing real-time port strikes worldwide from P&I club NorthStandard here.


Senators probing major retailers on use of child labor in supply chains. Following recent media investigations into exploited migrant children, senators are now asking some major U.S. companies about the use of child labor in their supply chains. Sen. Alex Padilla, chair of a subcommittee on immigration, and John Hickenlooper, chair of a subcommittee on workplace safety, are asking the companies how they vet their contractors and train their own employees to prevent child labor violations, SupplyChainDive reports. The senators sent letters to 27 companies on April 5, including the CEOs of Walmart, Target, PepsiCo, Frito Lay, J. Crew, Whole Foods, General Mills, Ben & Jerry’s, Ford and General Motors, and others who were named in a New York Times report on migrant child laborers working for major companies or their contractors.

Amazon begins charging for some returns. Amazon has begun charging customers for some returns made to The UPS Store locations. Customers may be charged when selecting The UPS Store for a return if a free option — Amazon Fresh, Whole Foods and Kohl’s locations — is within the same distance or closer to their delivery address, according to SupplyChainDive.