FOLLOWUP: Shore power use expected to start soon at Terminal 5

One week ago, we reported on a protest at Terminal 5 that led the Northwest Seaport Alliance to close the dock for the day. Climate activists – whose chanting was heard in north West Seattle neighborhoods – were calling attention to the continued lack of shore-power use at T-5, even though it was built with that capability. Early in the year, NWSA told us it was still the subject of labor negotiations. That’s apparently been the continued holdup, almost nine months after the terminal’s first modernized berth opened. City Councilmember Lisa Herbold had a followup in her most-recent weekly newsletter, mentioning an agreement in those negotiations, but the update wasn’t clear on whether ships subsequently had plugged in. Not yet, NWSA spokesperson Melanie Stambaugh subsequently told WSB: “The NWSA has been made aware that an interim agreement has been reached for shore power use at Terminal 5. No vessels have plugged in (yet), however, we expect the first vessel to plug into the shore power at T5 starting in October.” So far the first ship on T-5’s October schedule is due in a week from Friday.

10 Replies to "FOLLOWUP: Shore power use expected to start soon at Terminal 5"

  • Brian September 29, 2022 (5:37 am)

    I’m interested in the particulars of a labor dispute that precludes them from just plugging the ship in to shore power?

    • anonyme September 29, 2022 (12:54 pm)

      Brian, I have the same question.  What do labor relations have to do with plugging in?  This can and must be mandatory, regardless of the petty impediments being placed in the way.  Too many carrots, not enough sticks.  The window for action is nearly closed.

    • RickB September 29, 2022 (1:14 pm)

      A Bloomberg article reprinted in the Seattle Times said the following:

      In the Seattle case, the other union involved is the International
      Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers, known as the IAMAW. The
      unions are disputing whose members can undertake so-called cold
      ironing, a process that allows ships to use shore power while docked.

      • Ex-Westwood Resident September 29, 2022 (2:39 pm)

        Bloomberg needs to get writers that know what they are talking about.

        “Cold Ironing” is NOT a process that will allow a ship to use shore power. When a ship goes “Cold-Iron” what ever it  uses for propulsion, be it boilers (steam), gas turbines, diesel…etc., are turned off and  shut down, hence going cold.

        While that does mean a ship will need to plug into shore power, it does NOT mean that a ship must “cold-iron” to plug in. There were MANY times that the ships I was stationed on plugged into shore power WITHOUT going “cold-iron” and kept the boilers warm, esp. if we were overseas in a foreign port or away from homeport in the US. The determining factor was the length of stay in the port.

        This dispute was about who will plug the ship in to the shore power on the pier; ship’s company or the union.

        • Brian_Hughes September 29, 2022 (3:33 pm)

          This is helpful. What many people probably don’t realize is that thermal cycles dramatically reduce the life of things like boilers. You know how streets crack in cold/heat cycles?  Boilers do too.  It would be nice if there was an electric option to maintain boiler temps. 

          • Jethro Marx September 29, 2022 (4:50 pm)

            There is such an electric heater widely available. This sounds like a turf battle but I do enjoy hearing the apparently widely held belief that it is just a matter of plugging in a ship plug.

  • Question Authority September 29, 2022 (7:28 am)

    If the Longshoreman’s Union hadn’t try to take over Machinist’s Union pre existing work there wouldn’t have been an issue.  Union stealing from Union is a really bad look and the environment has suffered due to it.

  • Drew September 29, 2022 (6:18 pm)

    There’s no way that ship’s company will be plugging into shore power, not at that terminal anyways. It’s likely that the dispute is between the ILWU and another union. That’s normally how these things go. Jurisdictional disputes between organized labor within a marine terminal. A similar dispute led to the loss of all container traffic at the Port of Portland for many years. 

    Edit: The Bloomberg link explains it all, thanks to the poster

  • Mark47n September 30, 2022 (7:37 am)

    “plugging” in a ship isn’t like plugging in your coffee maker. There are many factors to be considered from phase rotation to the type of connector installed on both ends. It’s also a labor intensive process given the size of the cables involved. This is why it’s being disputed as to whose responsible for that connection and why the local would want the ship’s crew to take on that liability. The liability part is speculation but having made a career out of dragging large electrical cable around I feel I have some ideas as to what’s involved.

  • Retired IAMAW Member September 30, 2022 (8:28 am)

    This dispute goes well above Terminal 5 and is a jurisdictional dispute about various job functions up and down the entire West Coast that has been going on for years . I personally side with ILWU on this and believe all work at the Ports should belong to them.  The IAM represents workers in so many various industries that it seems greedy to fight over such a small bargaining unit in the grand scheme of things! Look it up… Trojan Condoms, John Deer, Harley Davidson, Boeing, DOD, Railroad, United Launch Alliance, Pratt and Whitney, Bombardier, Sweet and Low, Beer Industry, Airlines, US Forrest Service, the list goes on and on….!   Let the Longshoreman run the Port of Seattle District 160. Just my 2 cents…. Aloha Friday y’all! 

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