BY SPNW Staff 08:14PM 05/31/2012

Longshoremen claim arena threatens port jobs

Unhappy with the SoDo location of Chris Hansen’s proposed arena, the longshoremen’s union wrote that up to 4,000 jobs could be lost if more traffic makes the Port of Seattle less desirable.

The longshoremen's union issued a strongly worded letter, saying the proposed arena poses a threat to thousands of jobs./ Port of Seattle, Don Wilson

Debate about the site of a proposed arena in SoDo ratcheted up Thursday with a letter from the longshoremen’s union local that claimed thousands of jobs are at risk with the additional congestion from more sports events and a surrounding entertainment district.

The ILWU Arena Letter 5-31 from Cameron Williams, president of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 19 to the city and county councils, states, “We can build an arena anywhere, but we can’t rebuild a world-class, deep water port terminal anywhere.”

Williams wrote that while the union is in favor of the return of the NBA, up to 4,000 jobs are threatened by further slowing freight movement that may cause terminal operators to end their leases at the Port of Seattle. He said operators’ “mere perception of the risk of continued disruption of freight movement is enough for reconsideration of (the location of Terminal 30 and 46) operations.”

Choices include ports from Prince Rupert, B.C., all the way to the Panama Canal, which will be expanded by 2015 to allow larger ships to transport more goods to the East Coast and Europe, bypassing Puget Sound.

The Port of Tacoma is also a competitor. It recently won leases from freight services using the Port of Seattle that will amount to a 20 percent loss of business.

For the first time publicly, an opponent of the location criticized developer Chris Hansen’s creation of an entertainment district around the arena site, which is claimed to threaten the area’s industrial character.

“If this development of an arena is approved, more projects will come on line and city government will be pressured to rezone industrial SoDo for entertainment and retail development,” the letter stated.  “This will mean the eventual eroding of our maritime and industrial economic base. We do not agree that this eroding of these industrial lands and the jobs associated with it are inevitable; whether or not this happens is a matter of choice.”

The letter also criticized the failure of the city to deliver on infrastructure projects around the existing stadiums, and the plan’s use of revenues from “taxable entertainment venues” to fund its creation.

The letter says the project is not risk free nor a “zero cost” to taxpayers, and would be a net loss of living wage jobs in Seattle.

The city council began hearings Thursday on the project and the county hearings will begin Wednesday. The memorandum of understanding signed by the three parties — city, county and Hansen’s investor group, ArenaCo — is subject to approval by a majority of both councils.


YourThoughts

  • Bigslow31

    Im a union Laborer, local 242. This is a bs stunt by the longshoremen and Port to address the bigger issue of lousy roads. The arena would create more jobs than jobs lost. Besides the hundreds of jobs the arena would create and keep, the 2-4 year building process would employ many many more union construction workers. Cant wait to buy season tickets for the Totems-  to take my son to a Green Day or Stones concert. Its gonna happen.

  • Bigslow31

    Im a union Laborer, local 242. This is a bs stunt by the longshoremen and Port to address the bigger issue of lousy roads. The arena would create more jobs than jobs lost. Besides the hundreds of jobs the arena would create and keep, the 2-4 year building process would employ many many more union construction workers. Cant wait to buy season tickets for the Totems-  to take my son to a Green Day or Stones concert. Its gonna happen.

  • Jamo57

    If you Google the words ‘Port of Seattle truck drivers’ a series of stories will come up that paint a different picture than ‘world class’.   If you add underpaid to the front of that phrase a couple of more stories will come up reporting that the container trucks working around the port are some of the most dangeous in the state.

    Is this a smoke and mirrors effort to shift attention away from problems the Port wants us to forget about?

  • Jamo57

    If you Google the words ‘Port of Seattle truck drivers’ a series of stories will come up that paint a different picture than ‘world class’.   If you add underpaid to the front of that phrase a couple of more stories will come up reporting that the container trucks working around the port are some of the most dangeous in the state.

    Is this a smoke and mirrors effort to shift attention away from problems the Port wants us to forget about?

  • sportsfan

    From what I’ve read the jobs created by the arena would me almost exclusively low paying.  To me jobs aren’t an argument for the arena, and I think it would hurt the port unless millions are spent on improving the infrastructure.

    But I also look at the arial picture of the port and wonder if the land wouldn’t be better used as offices and condos.  Waterfront land that close to downtown has got to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  Perhaps the wisest long term solution would be to let the port go.

    For all that, I’m not in favor of the arena because I doubt they’ll spend enough money on roads and mass transit to make it anything but a logistical nightmare.

    • Ohmetimothy

      Clearly you are not a “sportsfan” as your name implies. Considering the timing of weekday basketball games, this will not do anything more for traffic problems in SoDo. The arena will seat approx 18,000 fans whereas Safeco can fit 30,000 more. Where were the longshoreman when Safeco was built? This is a copout argument that truly does not hold water.

    • Artthiel

       Abandoning the port would be an economic disaster. It’s not always about highest and best use of property for valuation. It’s about keeping the economy running.

  • sportsfan

    From what I’ve read the jobs created by the arena would me almost exclusively low paying.  To me jobs aren’t an argument for the arena, and I think it would hurt the port unless millions are spent on improving the infrastructure.

    But I also look at the arial picture of the port and wonder if the land wouldn’t be better used as offices and condos.  Waterfront land that close to downtown has got to be worth hundreds of millions of dollars.  Perhaps the wisest long term solution would be to let the port go.

    For all that, I’m not in favor of the arena because I doubt they’ll spend enough money on roads and mass transit to make it anything but a logistical nightmare.

    • Ohmetimothy

      Clearly you are not a “sportsfan” as your name implies. Considering the timing of weekday basketball games, this will not do anything more for traffic problems in SoDo. The arena will seat approx 18,000 fans whereas Safeco can fit 30,000 more. Where were the longshoreman when Safeco was built? This is a copout argument that truly does not hold water.

    • Artthiel

       Abandoning the port would be an economic disaster. It’s not always about highest and best use of property for valuation. It’s about keeping the economy running.

  • Joe Fan

    Two things need to be done; 1) we need to approve and build the arena; and 2) we need to, once and for and as Art Thiel eloquently stated in an article several weeks ago, design and bring up to standards the transporation routes in the area, both for the fans and the port traffic.

    • Artthiel

       Thanks, Joe. You left ou 3) Who pays for it?

      • Joe Fan

        Needs to be a study on the overall “wish list” of what needs to be done, determine the cost and who directly benefits the most, and come up with a reasonable allocation.  Some of the cost needs to be borne by the county and city; other costs should be allocated in the form of a tax to the arena folks, the railroads, truckers, and shipping companies, and the port.  There is no free lunch.  Parking fees at the stadiums I would think could also include a small fee.

  • Joe Fan

    Two things need to be done; 1) we need to approve and build the arena; and 2) we need to, once and for and as Art Thiel eloquently stated in an article several weeks ago, design and bring up to standards the transporation routes in the area, both for the fans and the port traffic.

    • Artthiel

       Thanks, Joe. You left ou 3) Who pays for it?

      • Joe Fan

        Needs to be a study on the overall “wish list” of what needs to be done, determine the cost and who directly benefits the most, and come up with a reasonable allocation.  Some of the cost needs to be borne by the county and city; other costs should be allocated in the form of a tax to the arena folks, the railroads, truckers, and shipping companies, and the port.  There is no free lunch.  Parking fees at the stadiums I would think could also include a small fee.

  • Camp Jones

    What a bunch of meat heads.  Seattle is a mess. The port plot of land would be great for a park.  In fact, I say we make an off leash park so my dog can crap on the place.  I hope they take a long walk off a short pier.    

    • Artthiel

       Thanks for advancing the conversation, Camp.

  • Camp Jones

    What a bunch of meat heads.  Seattle is a mess. The port plot of land would be great for a park.  In fact, I say we make an off leash park so my dog can crap on the place.  I hope they take a long walk off a short pier.    

    • Artthiel

       Thanks for advancing the conversation, Camp.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.cail1 Matt Cail

    Bigslow31 gets it.  This isn’t really about the stadium. It’s about the Longshoremen, the Port, and the Mariners trying to get leverage for transportation improvements.  At least some of those improvements needs to be made, but I still find it obnoxious that disingenuous arguments are being made. 

    • Artthiel

      You’re right, it is about issues that were never fixed for 10 years. Hansen’s choice of site coalesced the opposition. His advisers miscalculated the consequences.

  • http://www.facebook.com/matt.cail1 Matt Cail

    Bigslow31 gets it.  This isn’t really about the stadium. It’s about the Longshoremen, the Port, and the Mariners trying to get leverage for transportation improvements.  At least some of those improvements needs to be made, but I still find it obnoxious that disingenuous arguments are being made. 

    • Artthiel

      You’re right, it is about issues that were never fixed for 10 years. Hansen’s choice of site coalesced the opposition. His advisers miscalculated the consequences.

  • guest

     This part slays me… He said operators’ “mere perception of the risk of continued disruption
    of freight movement is enough for reconsideration of (the location of
    Terminal 30 and 46) operations.”

    Um, if perception is the problem, quit issuing letters and threats whose sole purpose is to make the news! 

  • guest

     This part slays me… He said operators’ “mere perception of the risk of continued disruption
    of freight movement is enough for reconsideration of (the location of
    Terminal 30 and 46) operations.”

    Um, if perception is the problem, quit issuing letters and threats whose sole purpose is to make the news! 

  • RadioGuy

    Interesting that we’ve got the Longshoremen doing this (no doubt as a precursor to a shakedown of some sort…that’s how union politics are done).  What exactly is the ILWU doing on this property right NOW?  I expect that if Hansen’s group now owns the parcel, the Longshoremen aren’t doing anything directly.  So exactly how do they lose out when they’re already getting no return on that parcel?  I’ll willingly make a retraction here if I’m shown wrong on that particular point.

    Questions about traffic infrastructure improvements are entirely valid, as are concerns about who would be on the hook to pay for them.  I never drive into Seattle for games precisely because the postgame traffic is routinely horrible.  I AM a little dubious that somehow neither the Port nor the ILWU wouldn’t be able to adapt their future schedules around night-time events, however, since they seemed to survive the Mariners, Seahawks and Sounders all having home games in the same area for the past 36 years.  I don’t recall them going into meltdown mode when the Kingdome was opened in 1976.

    Follow the money.  Whether it’s the Port or the unions, that’s what these things always end up being about.

    • Joe Fan

      I go to many games – Seahawks, Mariners, and Sounders. I never have problems postgame in getting out of town. It is just simply not a problem.

      • RadioGuy

        Maybe I need to follow you out of the parking lot.  My experience has usually been different.

        • Joe Fan

          I don’t know what else people expect.  I mean there are thousands of fans all hitting the roads at once after a game.  There is going to be some level of congestion.  Being someone who drives in commuter traffic to Bellevue every day, I don’t find the traffic after games to be anywhere near the level of congestion experienced in a morning or evening commute.  So to me it’s just not that bad and is what you would expect.  I remember getting out of Sonic games at the Colliseum/Key Arena years ago and it was hell getting from Seattle Center to I-5 on Mercer.

      • Artthiel

         If you go Sat-Sun, you’re OK. If you walk on any you’re OK. Otherwise Joe, it’s hell.

        • Joe Fan

          For M’s games I typically park in the convention center lot.  I get right on I-90 and I’m off to the east side.  No problem.  For Sounders (some being on Wednesday nights) and Seahawks games, I typically park up around Columbia and 5th.  I walk up to my my car, drive north on 5th and get on northbound I-5 and then 520.  Again, there is no problem here.  I really don’t have any issues with the traffic and I go to many, many games.

    • Artthiel

      A point being missed here is that the city made promises regarding traffic mitigation to the Port 10 years ago that they failed to keep. That’s the hot button I think Hansen missed. It’s a long simmering feud.

      Regarding the point about what the longshoremen are doing on Hansen property: Nothing. It’s on the east side of 1st Ave S and has has warehouses and retail. The complaint is about traffic consequences that were bad before Safeco was built, and promised to get attention, Never happened.

      • Joe Fan

        I agree with you though Art regarding the City’s lack of follow through on the traffic mitigation years ago.  I think building this new arena could be an opportunity for the city to step forward and complete the work they previously promised to do.

  • RadioGuy

    Interesting that we’ve got the Longshoremen doing this (no doubt as a precursor to a shakedown of some sort…that’s how union politics are done).  What exactly is the ILWU doing on this property right NOW?  I expect that if Hansen’s group now owns the parcel, the Longshoremen aren’t doing anything directly.  So exactly how do they lose out when they’re already getting no return on that parcel?  I’ll willingly make a retraction here if I’m shown wrong on that particular point.

    Questions about traffic infrastructure improvements are entirely valid, as are concerns about who would be on the hook to pay for them.  I never drive into Seattle for games precisely because the postgame traffic is routinely horrible.  I AM a little dubious that somehow neither the Port nor the ILWU wouldn’t be able to adapt their future schedules around night-time events, however, since they seemed to survive the Mariners, Seahawks and Sounders all having home games in the same area for the past 36 years.  I don’t recall them going into meltdown mode when the Kingdome was opened in 1976.

    Follow the money.  Whether it’s the Port or the unions, that’s what these things always end up being about.

    • Joe Fan

      I go to many games – Seahawks, Mariners, and Sounders. I never have problems postgame in getting out of town. It is just simply not a problem.

      • RadioGuy

        Maybe I need to follow you out of the parking lot.  My experience has usually been different.

        • Joe Fan

          I don’t know what else people expect.  I mean there are thousands of fans all hitting the roads at once after a game.  There is going to be some level of congestion.  Being someone who drives in commuter traffic to Bellevue every day, I don’t find the traffic after games to be anywhere near the level of congestion experienced in a morning or evening commute.  So to me it’s just not that bad and is what you would expect.  I remember getting out of Sonic games at the Colliseum/Key Arena years ago and it was hell getting from Seattle Center to I-5 on Mercer.

      • Artthiel

         If you go Sat-Sun, you’re OK. If you walk on any you’re OK. Otherwise Joe, it’s hell.

        • Joe Fan

          For M’s games I typically park in the convention center lot.  I get right on I-90 and I’m off to the east side.  No problem.  For Sounders (some being on Wednesday nights) and Seahawks games, I typically park up around Columbia and 5th.  I walk up to my my car, drive north on 5th and get on northbound I-5 and then 520.  Again, there is no problem here.  I really don’t have any issues with the traffic and I go to many, many games.

    • Artthiel

      A point being missed here is that the city made promises regarding traffic mitigation to the Port 10 years ago that they failed to keep. That’s the hot button I think Hansen missed. It’s a long simmering feud.

      Regarding the point about what the longshoremen are doing on Hansen property: Nothing. It’s on the east side of 1st Ave S and has has warehouses and retail. The complaint is about traffic consequences that were bad before Safeco was built, and promised to get attention, Never happened.

      • Joe Fan

        I agree with you though Art regarding the City’s lack of follow through on the traffic mitigation years ago.  I think building this new arena could be an opportunity for the city to step forward and complete the work they previously promised to do.

  • SeattleConservative

    The longshoremen are right about this. It’s too bad their credibility is less than zero now that their Longview chapter used vandalism and violence (with the support of the ILWU president) to extort a grain contract.
    It’s time for the ILWU to run a series of PSAs in industry trade publications to make up for the bad PR they brought on themselves.

    • RadioGuy

      They need more than good PR in trade pubs…their overall public image is pffftt.  I was following what they were doing at the Port of Longview and they were acting no better than the Black Block anarchists who trashed Seattle on May Day.  Even the IAM has a better reputation than the Longshoremen.

  • SeattleConservative

    The longshoremen are right about this. It’s too bad their credibility is less than zero now that their Longview chapter used vandalism and violence (with the support of the ILWU president) to extort a grain contract.
    It’s time for the ILWU to run a series of PSAs in industry trade publications to make up for the bad PR they brought on themselves.

    • RadioGuy

      They need more than good PR in trade pubs…their overall public image is pffftt.  I was following what they were doing at the Port of Longview and they were acting no better than the Black Block anarchists who trashed Seattle on May Day.  Even the IAM has a better reputation than the Longshoremen.

  • juanito36

    Some of you just don’t get it!  The longshoremen are not talking about traffic problems for the fans. It’s about being able to move those container-loaded semis along as fast as possible. Game day traffic does cause a problem.  Cargo has to be moved as fast as possible in this day and age. Delays cost thousands, if not millions, of dollars.  Build the frickin’ arena some place else.  By the way, what’s wrong with upgrading the Key Arena? 

  • juanito36

    Some of you just don’t get it!  The longshoremen are not talking about traffic problems for the fans. It’s about being able to move those container-loaded semis along as fast as possible. Game day traffic does cause a problem.  Cargo has to be moved as fast as possible in this day and age. Delays cost thousands, if not millions, of dollars.  Build the frickin’ arena some place else.  By the way, what’s wrong with upgrading the Key Arena? 

  • Jpl0205

    As far as the transportation issues the area now has Edgar Martinez Drive, the widened Spokane Viaduct project which will be completed later this year. Is this all about the Lander Street overpass? Which is actually estimated at costing $70-$80 million. Not $185 million as been previously reported numerous times.

  • Jpl0205

    As far as the transportation issues the area now has Edgar Martinez Drive, the widened Spokane Viaduct project which will be completed later this year. Is this all about the Lander Street overpass? Which is actually estimated at costing $70-$80 million. Not $185 million as been previously reported numerous times.