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Significant Progress Reported in West Coast Port Labor Contract Talks- No Final Deal As Yet

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Some fitting good news came prior to the Labor Day holiday weekend in the U.S. concerning the ongoing labor negotiations concerning the Pacific Maritime Association, representing numerous west coast ports, and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. The existing labor contract involving 29 U.S. west coast ports expired on July 1st. The Associated Press and other supply chain focused business media report that ongoing talks have made significant progress with a tentative deal reached on the critical knotty issue of healthcare benefits. According to the AP report, the association especially focused on limiting fraud in health plans to avoid penalties that may occur under the Affordable Care Act. The AP report further cites a federal grand jury investigation in California indicting three people for an alleged $50 million scheme to swindle health plans involving dockworkers along with other federal investigations concerning fraud among the subject health plans. In conformance to […]


Continued Good News Concerning U.S. Manufacturing Momentum- But Also A Cause for Concern

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Business media is alive with today’s headlines concerning the August report of U.S. manufacturing activity. The ISM PMI Index for August was reported as 59, almost two points higher than the July reading and the highest level in three years. Even more optimistic, the all-important New Orders index increased to 66.7, the highest level since April 2004. The production index also rose to its strongest level since May 2010. Of the total 18 industries surveyed in the ISM PMI Index, 17 showed positive gains, which is extraordinary. If you have been receiving our Supply Chain Matters Quarterly Newsletter, (automatically distributed to registered readers) we regularly report trending of major global PMI indices across the globe. In our trending, the U.S. PMI has consistently led most other regions for the past 4 quarters. Thus, U.S. manufacturing momentum is indeed a significant headline. However, before our U.S. based readers get too carried […]


Warning of Increased Threat of Cyber Attacks on Global Port Facilities

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The International Maritime Bureau (IMB), a non-profit organization established to fight maritime crime and malpractice is calling for vigilance across the maritime sector concerning an increasing threat of cyber-attacks. According to the agency: “The threat of cyber-attacks on the sector have intensified in the past few months, with cyber security experts and the media alike warning of the dangers posed by criminals targeting carriers, ports, terminals and other transport operators.” In a recent address, an IMB official reported that incidents of petty-theft break-ins at office facilities, which at-first seem harmless, were apparently efforts by thieves to physically install spyware within a port operator’s IT network. Port facilities often use industrial control systems in managing operations, systems that are sometimes not controlled by informational security software. The IMG advisory further warns of hackers utilizing social-media channels to target truck drivers and operational personnel who travel extensively and have knowledge of port […]


Demoulas and Market Basket: An Extrordinary Retail Drama and Case Study

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With an office in the suburbs of Boston, Supply Chain Matters has observed and experienced an extraordinary event, the power of a workforce that has no real hierarchy and loyalty. Our readers residing in the United States may have already heard or read of the developments concerning Demoulas and Market Basket supermarkets within the New England region. The story has become viral. It is a chain of supermarkets with no equal.  Workers decided to express loyalty to a CEO by refusing to work until that CEO was re-instated, which turned out to be a five week long standoff. The Boston Globe described the situation (paid subscription required) as “truly a breakthrough for middle-class workers” and provides a detailed account of the event.   In a capsule, this was about a private company that has an ample share of family focused dysfunction that spilled over in business relationships.  It is a story […]


Supply Chain Matters News Capsule-August 29; McDonalds, Boeing, Oracle E-Business Suite

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It’s the end of the calendar work week and the prelude to the Labor Day Holiday weekend in the U.S… This commentary is our running news capsule of developments related to previous Supply Chain Matters posted commentaries or news developments. In this capsule commentary, we include the following updates: Report that McDonalds is Reevaluating its China Supplier Boeing and a Major Supply Chain Partner Land a Big Order Oracle Announces Release of E-Business Suite 12.2.4   Report that McDonalds is Reevaluating its China Supplier A few weeks ago, Supply Chain Matters highlighted a Wall Street Journal report that indicated that in the light of China’s food regulators finding the existence of certain expired meat products within the McDonalds supply chain in China that the restaurant chain was going to give the benefit of doubt to its long-time supply chain supplier of 59 years, OSI Group, who’s China based subsidiary, Shanghai […]


Contract Labor Practices Under the U.S. Regulatory Looking Glass

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Business media has been reporting on recent rulings from the U.S. National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) that has implications for hiring and labor negotiations practices related to contract workers.  Supply Chain Matters advises operations and customer fulfillment teams to stay abreast of these developments since certain rulings can have noteworthy implications for existing supply chain work practices and cost structures. Essentially, the NLRB is re-visiting long-standing practices as to when contractual business arrangements, such as the use of supplemental contract workers render the contracting business a joint-employer of workers that are employed by the contract worker firm. An initial ruling involved global restaurant firm McDonalds and its franchisee restaurant operators, when the NLRB reviewed complaints alleging that the restaurant chain and its franchisees had violated the rights of employees who were involved in protest activities. After finding what it believed to be merit in the complaint of unfair labor practices, […]


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