Thursday, August 2, 2012

Coal: SSA Marine Info

A comprehensive report on SSA Marine is available via the Internet, here.
It was presented in early 2006 at a conference on Global commerce, but restricted from being reprinted.

Because understanding SSA Marine's business, typical modes of operations and remarkable culture of secrecy seems important to adequately assess its sincerity, clout and willingness to respond to public concerns, providing easier access to this information may be important.

Since the report is lengthy -over 90 pages- many may feel daunted to read the entire document.
To help alleviate that obstacle, I am reprinting several excerpts, below, to spur interest in this document.
Rhonda Evans and Jason McNichol

University of California
Under the supervision of
Tom Juravich Conference Research Director
Kate Bronfenbrenner Conference Coordinator
February 1, 2006
Prepared for the International Conference
Global Companies – Global Unions – Global Research – Global Campaigns 
An Excerpted Summary:
SSA [Stevedoring Services of America] Marine: Headquarters in Seattle WA 
-- a privately owned international marine cargo-handling company with over 150 operations in 19 countries; one of the top five terminal operators in the world; 13,000 worldwide employees; over U.S. $1.2 billion in annual revenues; growth annual rate of [estimated] 9.1 to 18% [2006]
- loading and unloading of ships
- inter-modal rail transport
- logistical and software solutions
- government contracts 
- management by its approximately 70 subsidiaries and joint ventures.
United States - operates major terminals in Seattle, Tacoma, Oakland, Los Angeles/Long Beach, and other locations, as well as 27 facilities in the Gulf and Atlantic regions. 
Outside US - significant operations in Mexico, Panama, Chile, Vietnam, and New Zealand, and South Africa, other countries. 
Customers - shipping lines, government agencies, port authorities, consignees, railroads, and logistics providers. 
Major competitors - Hutchison Whapoa, P&O, and Evergreen Marine, others. 
In the U.S. SSA frequently invests in new ventures with support from port authorities and municipalities, who often co-finance projects through public bonds backed by agreements on future lease payments. 
SSA’s international investments are financed by combinations of firm equity, commercial bonds, national governments, and intergovernmental lending (especially through the International Finance Corporation (IFC).
SSA’s workers in the United States and abroad are represented by several regional unions, including International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA), among others.
According to industry observers, SSA Marine has a reputation of being more anti-union than many of its peers.
SSA’s record of health and safety violations in the U.S. reflects the risks faced by workers in the cargo handling sector more broadly. 
As a company that frequently negotiates high-profile, complex contracts with both public and private entities, SSA has also been party to disputes and controversies with other stakeholders, including litigation over partnership contracts, worker safety, and public debates over the significant environmental impacts of port activities. 
Among industry analysts, SSA Marine and its parent company, Carrix, are considered to be extremely secretive and private regarding the disclosure of financial information. As one trade observer has remarked, “Despite its vast scope and clout, virtually nothing is known about SSA’s finances or operations. This is because SSA is owned by private individuals and is not obligated to report profits or other details publicly.” Aside from very basic information provided by Hoover’s and Dun and Bradstreet, the privately held company does not provide consolidated information regarding its balance sheets, investments, cost structure, and income.
SSA Marine is a privately owned company that has been owned and headed by members of the Hemingway and Smith families for three generations. The company tends to promote from within the firm, and most of the senior officers of the company have long histories with SSA Marine:
President and CEO of Carrix, SSA Marine and affiliated companies: Jon Hemingway
EVP Strategic Planning, Carrix: Daniel Flynn
President, SSA Conventional: Claude Stritmatter
President, SSA Terminals: Edward DeNike
Chief Financial Officer, Carrix: Charles Sadowski
President, Tideworks: Mike Schwank
President, SSA Containers: Edward DeNike
SVP, Business Development and Marketing: Andrew McLauchlan
President, SSA International: David Michou
Environmental: Public interest groups in the United States are paying increasing attention to environmental concerns in the marine port sector, both at existing port sites and in proposals for the development of new terminals. This heightened interest highlights the toxic hazards port employees are exposed to at their workplace and creates new opportunities for alliances between labor and environmental groups. Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is at the forefront of legal efforts to reduce port pollution; the Coalition for Clean Air in California is also publicly involved.
In a 2004 report on port pollution, NRDC authors reported that marine ports are among the least regulated point-sources of major pollutants in the United States. The authors also argued that efforts intended to accommodate increased imports have resulted in increased emissions without sufficient government oversight.
Sources of pollution at marine ports include ship fuel, diesel engines in trucks, ships, cargo-handling equipment, and locomotives – all of which burn the dirtiest grade of diesel fuel. Environmental and health impacts include increased risks of contracting respiratory illnesses, cardiovascular disease, cancer and other diseases among employees and nearby residents; increased smog; and decreased water quality.
Water quality is compromised by oily bilge water from ships, oil spills, wastewater, chemical leakage, storm water runoff, and dredging.
Major air pollutants found at ports include: nitrogen oxides, sulfur oxides, ozone, particulate matter, diesel exhaust, volatile organic compounds, carbon monoxide, formaldehyde, heavy metals, dioxins, and pesticides. 
Diesel exhaust is comprised of 450 different compounds, about 40 of which are listed by the California Environmental Protection Agency as toxic air contaminants.
The NRDC compared average emissions of major pollutants from large ports to those from other major sources. A NRDC report, illustrates the substantial and variable emissions of nitrogen oxides and particulate matter from selected domestic ports as compared to other sources. Reflecting the large scale of its operations, the Port of Los Angeles is the largest emitter in the comparison.
Public concerns over environmental consequences of port development have grown noticeably in the last 30 years.
Project advocates often begin planning by examining how they can satisfy the demands of environmentalists and community groups, in part because they know that such groups will carefully scrutinize the public findings of required environmental impact assessments. 
Local communities are often most concerned about traffic congestion and air pollution. According to SSA CEO Jon Hemingway, in Southern California the general public antipathy toward the cargo industry, competition between commuters and truckers on congested roads, and “NIMBY” (not in my backyard) attitudes toward new projects make infrastructure improvement efforts difficult to carry out.
Community concerns have derailed several major expansion projects in recent years. The port of Long Beach recently rescinded approval of an expansion of the COSCO terminal after the filed environmental impact statement came under serious criticism from environmental and community groups. An NRDC group successfully held up the Long Beach Pier J expansion.
At least two environmental controversies involved SSA Marine in Seattle. Concerns over the handling of contaminants at the Harbor Island Superfund site, where Terminal 18 is located, led to EPA rulings regarding clean-up provisions during the 1980s and 1990s. And when SSA worked with the Port of Seattle to redevelop the port in the late 1990s, the contractor hired to complete the project was issued citations for safety violations at the Harbor Island site by the Washington State Department of Labor and Industries. It appears, however, that SSA itself was not directly involved in the clean-up work on Harbor Island during the redevelopment phase.
A dispute over New Zealand Stevedoring included accusations that the company was engaged in something akin to “strategic bankruptcy” or the declaration of insolvency to avoid liabilities, followed by the establishment of another company with some of the same assets and management. Drexler described the restructuring of New Zealand Stevedoring:
SSA had apparently developed a scheme in which the subsidiaries leased their equipment from another subsidiary and therefore had no assets that could be sold or attached to cover severance or back pay in a liquidation. After going out of business, New Zealand Stevedoring established new companies under new names and with the same officers and directors who were also principals in SSA. The new companies occupied the same offices occupied by the bankrupt companies.
Labor unions consider the company to be one of the most anti-union companies in the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA).
The 2002 contract negotiations between the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association were marked by extreme bitterness and resulted in a shutdown of West Coast ports.
The ILWU viewed SSA Marine as the main obstacle in contract negotiations and accused the company of trying to destroy the union. ILWU president Spinosa went on record at the time, stating, “"While most employers want to work with us to implement new technologies, SSA is undermining negotiations because their primary interest is breaking the union."
The lock-out lasted ten days, until the Bush Administration intervened by declaring the shutdown of West Coast ports to be a significant danger to the national economy. This was the first step necessary to invoke Taft-Hartley, and a federal judge in San Francisco granted a temporary restraining order and a hearing for an 80-day injunction.

While SSA Marine is actively involved with port politics, it is not a major corporate player on either the national or international political stage. 
The Center for Responsive Politics reported that the company gave approximately $24,000 in political contributions between 1999 and 2002; 80% went to Republicans. SSA Marine is reported to have strong ties with Senator Patty Murray from Washington, whose husband works for the company.
As a highly secretive, privately held company with multiple subsidiaries and partnerships, SSA does not disclose details of its strategies, strengths, and liabilities easily.
Now, I ask you, do you think dealing with this SSA company will be an easy task?

• With the track record SSA has established, we can count on them being difficult, secretive, combative and deep-pocketed, but stingy in paying for anything more than the minimum safeguards that are imposed upon them; because that would reduce expected returns on investment. 

• The 'alliance' SSA has made with unions appears shaky at best, since its attitude is to use them as tools rather than true, long-term partners. 

• Environmental concerns are not likely to be comprehensively addressed unless absolutely mandated by governmental agencies.

• Congestion on land and water will be externalized to 'others' whenever possible; meaning us -the taxpayers.

• Safety concerns will be treated as matters for 'others' -us- to deal with and pay for.

• Degradation of our area and associated property values would be inevitable should the GPT proposal ever come to fruition; sufficient mitigation cannot be quantified, much less exacted adequately.

We'd be better off to simply purchase the Cherry Point site and hold it for a better, less harmful, activity, with more diverse, real jobs for local citizens.

There is no need to be panicked into agreeing to the first proposal to come forth, especially one that is so certain to create terrible impacts. 
Since 1982, this site has been waiting for a decent proposal that people would welcome. 

By the way, 1982 was the year that a terminal proposal from Chicago Bridge & Iron went all the way to the Governor of Washington for final approval, which never came! 
That was because former Governor Spellman -a Republican- had the good sense & guts to veto it.
This GPT proposal should never get that far!