Commissioner John Creighton Leads Seattle Port Commission’s Efforts to Seek Review of Labor Relations Ruling

The Port approved at its October 23 business meeting a motion authorizing outside legal counsel to seek to dissolve or modify a 2000 federal court order and consent judgment that blocked a Port attempt to make a port business hire workers from a particular Port-allied labor union. The agreement also permanently blocked any other Port actions interfering with the federally-protected rights of concessionaires “to assign work to their own employees.”

The injunction, which the Port Commission believes is overly broad, has effectively blocked the Port from requiring or even strongly recommending to concessionaires that they adopt a “worker retention” policy.

The Port has detailed publicly that it wants concessionaires – companies who bid to win lease rights on Port property to do business – to commit upfront, perhaps as a condition of being awarded a concession, that they will take steps to try to hire suitable ex-workers of other Port concessionaires who ended their leases with the Port. The worker retention policy has been proposed as part of a broader Concessions Master Plan the Port is developing to govern its relations from 2015 to 2017 with concessionaires at its Sea-Tac Airport. There are more than 50 in-airport concessionaires at Sea-Tac and others on adjacent airport properties.

“We have a dedicated, experienced pool of workers at the airport,” said Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton, “it is important that, as we look to renew our concessions program, we have a smooth transition both for our workforce and the traveling public.”

About Commissioner John Creighton

John Creighton was elected to the Seattle Port Commission in 2005 and re-elected in 2009. He served as Port Commission President from 2007-2008, and for the last two years as co-chair of the Commission’s Century Agenda committee. The Century Agenda committee has led the development of the Port’s 25-year plan to help grow 100,000 new port-related jobs for the Puget Sound region.

Prior to returning home to Seattle in 2000, John was a business lawyer who practiced law in Washington, D.C., and overseas in Istanbul, Helsinki and Singapore with the New York law firm White & Case. John grew up in the eastside suburbs of Seattle, where he attended Interlake High School. For more information about Commissioner John Creighton, please visit www.johncreighton.org.

Commissioner Creighton Comments on 2011 Air Emissions Report and Next Steps by Port of Seattle

Maritime-related air pollution has decreased—as much as 40 percent, depending on the type—since 2005, according to a report released today by the Puget Sound Maritime Air Forum.

“The results of the 2011 Emissions Inventory are significant, with substantial pollution reductions across the board for the Seattle harbor,” said Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton.  “We still have work to do in protecting the environment and the health of both our workers and our communities, but the results of the 2011 inventory show that we are headed in the right direction.”

The report is the result of the 2011 Puget Sound Maritime Air Emissions Inventory, which provided an update to the 2005 baseline inventory.

The inventory estimated greenhouse gases, diesel particulate matter and a number of other pollutants, such as sulfur dioxides and volatile organic compounds. It focused on pollutants related to ships, harbor vessels, cargo-handling equipment, rail, heavy-duty trucks and other fleet vehicles associated with maritime activities.

Much of the clean air progress is due to significant, voluntary investments of the maritime industry and government agencies in cleaner technology, cleaner fuels and more efficient systems of operation.

Results from the 2011 inventory will help guide and focus future emissions reduction investments.Emissions in the airshed dropped since 2005 from the following pollutants:

Nitrogen oxides: reduced 14 percent

  • Volatile organic compounds: reduced 40 percent
  • Sulfur oxides: reduced 14 percent
  • Particulate matter (PM10): reduced 16 percent
  • Fine particulate matter (PM2.5): reduced 16 percent
  • Diesel particulate matter: reduced 16 percent
  • Carbon dioxide: reduced 5 percent

Overall, emissions fell for most sources since 2005. Diesel particulate matter emissions are summarized below:

 

  • Ocean-going vessels: reduced 16 percent
  • Harbor vessels: increased 7 percent
  • Locomotives: reduced 24 percent
  • Cargo-handling equipment: reduced 40 percent
  • Heavy-duty vehicles: reduced 52 percent
  • Fleet vehicles: reduced 47 percent

In the harbor vessels sector, which includes ferries, tugs, fishing and recreational boats, some categories of pollutants increased.This is likely due to a 12 percent increase in boat traffic, as well as an increase in the use of larger engines, which have higher emissions.

The maritime industry has adopted a number of voluntary initiatives to reduce emissions, including switching to low-sulfur or biodiesel fuels, using shore power, replacing or retrofitting older engines and improving systems to use equipment more efficiently.

The Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy, a ground-breaking initiative of the ports of Tacoma, Seattle and Metro Vancouver, B.C., has helped further reduce emissions in the Puget Sound and Georgia air basins. Mandatory engine and fuel standards also have spurred adopting newer engines and cleaner fuels.

Some of the decrease also can be attributed to fewer ship calls and less cargo resulting from a sluggish economy.

Inventory results will help focus future efforts and investments. The ports of Seattle and Tacoma are updating their Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy goals based on the inventory results.

Maritime partners will continue efforts to lower diesel emissions because they pose a public health risk. Exposure to diesel pollutants can contribute to increased rates of lung cancer, chronic respiratory and cardiovascular disease and other health effects.

Maritime industry partners continue to seek ways to reduce emissions from all sources, with particular attention to ships. While ship-related emissions have dropped, they account for 63 percent of the maritime-related diesel particulate matter emissions.

The 2011 results do not account for the North American “Emission Control Area” that went into effect Aug. 1, 2012, requiring ships operating in waters along the Pacific, Gulf and Atlantic coasts of the United States and Canada to burn cleaner fuels. This regulation is expected to have a significant effect in further reducing ship-related emissions.

The Seattle Port Commission will also soon be considering the next generation, or “Phase 2”, of its Clean Trucks Program.  The Commission will be taking a look at a number of options to incentivize cleaner truck technologies in the harbor, including a proposal by Commissioner Rob Holland last year to sponsor a pilot program with respect to trucks powered by compressed natural gas, or CNG.

“We have set the goal at the Port of Seattle to be the cleanest, most energy efficient port in North America,” noted Commissioner Creighton.  “I want to thank Commissioner Holland for his efforts working with port stakeholders –regulatory agencies, manufacturers, shipping and trucking companies and truck drivers – to look at how the Port of Seattle can continue to improve air quality for our community.”

Solving Traffic Issues for Both Freight and Cars in the Puget Sound Region

In 2009, according to the Texas Transportation Institute, Seattle was ranked 10th in the nation in terms of traffic congestion. Commuters spent hours behind the wheels of their cars, simply looking at the license plates of the cars ahead of them.  Unfortunately, the problem has only gotten worse in the subsequent years.  In 2012, the city ranked 4th in congestion, according to news reports.  It is a sad statistic, but there are some reasons to be hopeful.  For example, while it’s true that people in the Seattle area are spending longer periods of time in their cars, just trying to move through the city, is likely in part due to road construction.

Because cars share the roads with trucks, congestion also negatively impacts the movement of freight and, ultimately, our region’s economic health.   For many years, state leaders have known that Seattle does not have an efficient system for moving freight, and they have attempted to allocate funds to fix the problem.  In 2005, the state legislature passed an increase in the gas tax – later affirmed by referendum – aimed at funding 274 projects over 16 years, including $542 million for 35 targeted freight mobility projects.

Critical projects being currently undertaken in the Seattle area include the replacement of the Alaska Way Viaduct with the Deep Bore Tunnel and the replacement and widening of the State Route 520 bridge.  Grade separations are being built in South Seattle and throughout the Green River Valley so that cars and trucks will no longer need to stop for passing trains.  The replacement for the South Park Bridge, which had to be closed because it was no longer safe for vehicle traffic, will be completed next year (this is a critical project both for South Seattle neighborhoods and for Boeing freight traffic).  North of downtown Seattle, the Mercer Street corridor is being reworked in a manner that, among other things, will ease the journey of buses and trucks from I-5 to the Port of Seattle’s terminals in North Seattle.

But the 2005 measure does not address all of the state’s transportation needs.  A task force appointed by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire in 2011 estimated that the backlog in funding transportation projects in Washington State is at least $50 billion, though most important needs could be met with the expenditure of $21 billion over ten years.

To meet the Port of Seattle’s 25 year goals to grow seaport cargo throughput to 3.5 million containers per year and to triple air cargo activity at Sea-Tac Airport, it is critical that the state complete the extension of State Route 509 from the airport south to Interstate 5.  Similarly, for the Port of Tacoma to meet its long-term growth goals, the completion of State Route 167 is needed.  Both of those are $1 billion-plus projects however.

Our conversations about transportation funding tend to focus on the merits of specific projects. That usually leaves out a discussion about whether the project complements a broader regional and national strategy.  Does it warrant the dollars it requests, compared to other projects still waiting for funding?

Roads and railways are only as effective as the system they support.  If U.S. ports are going to continue to generate the family-wage jobs and economic opportunity they have produced in the past, transportation funding needs this kind of a new framework, one that ranks projects that best support the economy that move goods from farm to market. Moreover, a properly planned, constructed, and maintained freight system – adding capacity and building grade separations where appropriate – also benefits passenger rail, buses, motorists, bicyclists, and pedestrians.

Seattle Port Commissioner John Creighton Welcomes Beecher’s Handmade Cheese to Sea-Tac Airport

Most of the concession leases at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport are scheduled to come up for renewal during the period from 2015-2017.  The Seattle Port Commission has been looking at how they can improve revenue while protecting jobs at the airport, make the experience better for the traveling public, create more of a “Northwest sense of place” at the airport focused on Seattle area brands, and increase opportunities for small local businesses.

Foreshadowing this new initiative, earlier this month Sea-Tac Airport welcomed the opening today ofBeecher’s Handmade Cheese in the C concourse. Founded by Tacoma-native Kurt Beecher Dammeier, Beecher’s Cheese joins the array of local specialty stores, along with nationally recognized brands, offered at Sea-Tac.

Best known for its location in Pike Place Market, Beecher’s Handmade Cheese serves artisan, small-batch cheeses, tomato soup, fresh Panini sandwiches, “Oprah’s Best” macaroni and cheese with gourmet coffee from Seattle’s own Caffé Vita.  In addition, the store will offer retail products such as bulk cheese, signature crackers, cheese housewares and cookbooks by Kurt Dammeier and other well-known Seattle chefs. For the Sea-Tac location, Dammeier has also developed a breakfast menu and will soon expand offerings to include fresh fruits, pasta and green salads.

 

“The Port Commission is committed to improving the airport experience for the traveling public while we expand opportunities for local businesses,” said Commissioner John Creighton.  “We are very excited to welcome local artisan cheesemaker Beecher’s to the airport family.”

 

Beecher’s Handmade Cheese is located on concourse C, across from the Alaska Air Group/Horizon gates and adjacent to the Massage Bar and butter LONDON.

Sea-Tac Airport and Minimizing the Spread of Infectious Disease

According to theGlobal Health Strategic Mapping and Economic Opportunity Portfolio completed last year by the Global Health Alliance (WGHA) and City of Seattle’s Office of Economic Development (OED) the global health sector is having a growing impact both in Washington State and around the world:

  • 59 Washington organizations are conducting global health work in 156 countries;
  • In Washington, 2,979 people work in global health. Outside of the state, these 59 organizations support an additional 17,275 employees;
  • Washington has particular expertise in infectious & chronic disease and developing technologies & devices; and
  • The Washington global health organizations surveyed collaborate with 1,574 partners, located in 111 countries across the world.

The growing global health sector in the Puget Sound is having a positive spillover effect in other sectors of the local economy as well.  For example, in March 2012, the UAE-based international airline Emirates began non-stop service between Dubai and Seattle-Tacoma International Airport.  Emirates offers convenient connections to both Asia and Africa from its hub in the Middle East, and one of the factors for choosing to start service to Seattle was the amount of travel that local global health executives do to the developing world.

Infectious disease has always been part of the human existence, and the microbes that cause disease evolve as fast as humans can develop strategies to combat them.  As the world has become increasingly mobile, monitoring and combating the spread of infectious diseases have become even more important.

As people travel, they often bring the microbes that cause infectious disease along with them.  If they move into communities in which vaccination for that disease is not common or is no longer prevalent, disaster can follow.

Tuberculosis (TB) provides a good example of this concept.   Over the last century, the disease has become relatively rare in the U.S.  As a result, U.S. health officials have let their guard down with respect to TB.  However, over the last several years the number of TB cases in the Seattle-area has increased.

Changes in the TB trends often show up first in port cities with high rates of foreign travel, foreshadowing future increases in other communities.  Most of the new cases in the Seattle area, close to 75%, are being identified among immigrants from Southeast Asia, Africa, former Soviet states and Latin America.

Airports are gateways to the world, and close to 33 million people traveled through Sea-Tac Airport last year.  Because of this, airports and aviation have the potential to unwittingly increase the rate at which disease spreads, particularly in the case of an international outbreak of communicable disease such as SARS or the bird flu.

For airport operators, the main aims are to protect the health and welfare of travelers, staff and the public, and to reduce the opportunities for the spread of communicable diseases by air. Sea-Tac Airport therefore is constantly reviewing its emergency contingency plans and periodically conducting exercises together with federal, state and local government agencies to look at how the airport can most effectively respond to communicable disease outbreaks and minimize the spread of such diseases.

When an infectious disease outbreak strikes, it is often our most vulnerable populations – populations that lack access to adequate preventive health care services – that take the brunt of the impact.  Health officials in Seattle are finding a significant amount of TB cases in the city’s homeless population.

Seattle is home to several internationally recognized organizations that are working hard to eradicate the threat of these infectious diseases. For example, one that I had the privilege to serve on the board of trustees of from 2003 to 2009 is Seattle BioMed.  Seattle BioMed (www.seattlebiomed.org) is dedicated to research toward diagnostics, drugs and vaccines against infectious diseases.   The diseases that Seattle BioMed focuses on include AIDS, malaria, tuberculosis and many emerging and/or neglected diseases of the developing world, including Chagas’ Disease, African Sleeping Sickness and Leishmaniasis.

Many organizations like this raise a significant amount of their funds through foundations and other major funders of research.  The Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation based in Seattle (www.gatesfoundation.org) has become a leading funder of global health research.  However, they also rely very much on donations from the community in order to do this important research. While money is tight for many families in this economy, even a small donation to these research institutes is incredibly helpful.  It is something we should all consider.