ILA mechanics union shuts down Port of Charleston's Wando Welch Terminal

ILA mechanics union shuts down Port of Charleston's Wando Welch Terminal
• By David Wren
• Jan 27, 2017 Updated Jan 27, 2017

Union workers man the control room for the State Ports Authority’s new gate system at the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant.

Traffic within the Wando Welch Terminal in Mount Pleasant was at a standstill Friday afternoon as members of the International Longshoremen's Association slowed truck movements through the State Ports Authority's largest container yard.

According to reports, union members were forcing truck drivers to stop for visual chassis inspections instead of allowing them to drive past cameras for video inspections made possible by a new automated gate system the SPA installed last summer. The inspections were forcing backups within the terminal with one trucker reporting he had moved just 50 yards in a half hour's time.

"We're working through issues with union mechanics," said Barbara Melvin, the SPA's senior vice president of operations and terminals. Melvin said the union's "leadership has been non-responsive thus far, and the SPA is doing all it can to get drivers back on the road ASAP."

At 1 p.m., SPA officials said the ILA's mechanics union had agreed to halt the disruption and that the maritime agency was working to clear the congestion. As of 2 p.m, heavy congestion was still being reported.

The SPA is scheduled to begin testing the automated system at its North Charleston terminal on Saturday. The system, called Go!Port, is used at most U.S. maritime facilities. The system uses an electronic kiosk where truckers are given a slip of paper telling them where in the terminal they need to go for their cargo. Computers and cameras then guide truckers through the terminal as union workers view the action in a nearby control room.