GALVESTON, Texas — The Wharves Board of Trustees approved a license for a new stevedoring company at the Port of Galveston on Wednesday.
The company, Superior Stevedoring Services, will be licensed in January and operations are limited to handling cargo from new businesses only.
"I’m not interested in anybody else’s business," said John L. Sullivan, president of the company. "This would be totally new business and enhancing my current business."
Currently, nine stevedores, which are companies that oversee ship loading and unloading, are licensed to do business at the port. All of these companies have contracts with the International Longshoremen’s Association to employ ILA men.
However, Superior Stevedoring Services will not contract employees from the ILA.
"I’m pleased they amended the license to new cargo only," Ted O’Rourke, president of ILA Local 20, said. "Mr. Sullivan wants to use his own guys, but if he comes to me, I would be willing to negotiate. We believe in continuity and cross-training and retention of good employees, and for us to have someone to come in and go nonunion and bring the wages down, all that does is hurt your community."
The new company will handle cargo at Pier 34 cargo terminal and take it to Newport Marine Terminal and Industrial Park, a company at Harborside Drive that Sullivan owns and operates.
The products could then be reloaded onto trucks, rail cars or barges for shipment.
"I have no idea on a time frame yet," Sullivan said. "It’s like the chicken and the egg question. I had to wait for the approval and now I can go out for bids on cargo."
Sullivan would not specify the cargo.
He estimates the company will employ 30 people and could bring in $1 million in revenue a year.
"We operate the port as a business," Port Director Steve Cernak said. "This was identified as a new business that will help shore up the diversity of our revenue basis."
Cernak said the port has handled nearly 7.5 million tons of cargo this year, as compared with about 5 million tons in 2009 at this time.
"The port is coming back to life," he said. "If this new company allows us to help a Galveston business to grow, then we’re completing a part of our mission statement. That’s the importance of this."
This is the first new license for a stevedoring company since 2008 that has been approved by the board.
Trustees Robert Hoskins and Don Suderman abstained from the vote.
This story was brought to you thanks to khou.com’s partnership with The Galveston County Daily News.