Somewhat expectedly, Maersk's announced pullout from the Charleston market may not be as final as it was being reported.
Read more stories on this subject in our port topic page.First there's this line from The Charleston Regional Business Journal's reporting today:
Hal Johnson, president and CEO of the Upstate Alliance, called Maersk’s tough stand a “leveraging tool.”
If over the next two years no way can be found to keep Maersk here, it would likely be devastating in the short term to the business linked to 11% of all of our jobs in South Carolina.
What's it mean? We'll either find lots of companies to fill Maersk's big shoes, or the unions or our port might be forced to bend to Maersk's will.
Update December 20: The Post and Courier's morning write-up offers more evidence that nothing's etched in stone yet:
The news of Maersk's decision spurred legislators into action Friday. Several are set to meet with officials from the shipping line and the International Longshoremen's Association in Charleston early next week, according to people familiar with the plans.
Update December 21: And there's even more evidence of the possibility of Maersk sticking around, this time in an editorial at The Post and Courier dubber "Don't give up on Maersk."
Update December 23: And the negotiations are ongoing, there's a number of write-ups, but The Charleston Regional Business Journal's strikes me the most, in part:
S.C. State Ports Authority CEO Bernard Groseclose said afterward that he was "very hopeful" the parties could reach an accord that would keep Maersk here.
"If you ask Maersk, they will say they made their decision, and they announced it last week," Groseclose said. "But they said, offered scenarios, while it wouldn’t be easy to change their course, they would evaluate those."
But there's some talk that what's going on here may go beyond Charleston. Maersk could be using Charleston as a test market to see if it can get the union's to bend, allowing them to use more non-union labor.
If the ILA does flinch in Charleston, you could be seeing more, similar stories across the country.