Ports Authority cutting 17 jobs, citing down economy

CHARLESTON, SC - The South Carolina State Ports Authority (SCSPA) will reduce its staff of 541 by up to 17 positions because of a weakened global economy, declining container volumes and a predicted lengthy recovery, according to John F. Hassell III, interim president and CEO.

The move comes only after a very deliberative process and numerous other steps to reduce expenses, such as not filling vacant positions, deferring capital expenses, implementing an employee suggestion program and freezing wages and salaries.

The reduction is a direct result of market conditions in the international shipping industry.  Through May, the number of shipping containers moving through U.S. ports dropped 20 percent from the same five months last year.

The global economic crisis has required that ports, their customers and others in the supply chain streamline their operations and reduce expenses to remain on solid financial footing.  In South Carolina, numerous other companies and public agencies have reduced staffing in

light of declining revenues.

"This reduction is both difficult and painful, but it is necessary to the long-term success of the Ports Authority," said Hassell.  "The aim is to emerge from this a stronger organization, capable of better serving our customers and the state."

The SCSPA will offer outplacement services, workshops and other consultation to all impacted employees as they prepare to look for positions in the area.

While the reductions primarily affect areas of the organization that are sensitive to the decline in cargo volumes, a two-day furlough will be implemented for all employees across every department.

About the South Carolina State Ports Authority The South Carolina State Ports Authority, established by the state's General Assembly in 1942, owns and operates public seaport facilities in Charleston and Georgetown, handling international commerce valued at more than $62 billion annually and receiving no direct taxpayer subsidy. An economic development engine for the state, port operations facilitate 260,800 jobs across South Carolina and nearly $45 billion in economic activity each year.