Stevedoring Company Shuts Down, Lays Off Workforce

NEW ORLEANS (AP) — After more than three decades, a New Orleans-based stevedoring company said it is shutting down operations at the Port of New Orleans and has laid off its 135 employees.

Coastal Cargo Co., which specializes in handling bulk and breakbulk cargo like large equipment, boxes and drums that don’t fit into traditional containers, notified the Louisiana Workforce Commission last month that the layoffs were effective Friday.

An employee at the company’s headquarters told The Times-Picayune/The New Orleans Advocate the company is closing its doors permanently because of a lease termination and ongoing legal dispute. She declined further comment. An attorney for the company could not be reached to discuss the issue.

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Port of New Orleans officials also declined to comment on the court case but confirmed it had terminated Coastal Cargo’s lease, which expired in March 2022. The company continued to operate at the port though, paying rent on a month-to-month basis. That arrangement ended June 30.

In a statement to the newspaper, a port spokesperson said two other breakbulk cargo operators — Ports America and QSL — are expanding and leasing the facilities previously occupied by Coastal, which will allow port operations to continue without any downtime.

“With the expansion, they will provide additional job opportunities, as well as uninterrupted breakbulk cargo services for Port NOLA maritime customers,” the statement said.

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When Coastal Cargo’s lease was not renewed, the company sued, claiming the port had violated the terms of its lease and engaged in unfair trade practices. The lawsuit alleges that the port has offered more generous terms to Coastal’s national competitor, Ports America, which provides similar services and is the largest terminal operator in the U.S.

The port, however, contends Coastal failed to comply with maintenance and repair obligations in its lease, noting 159 items during a March inspection that the company had failed to maintain at the wharves it operates.

Coastal Cargo has denied those allegations.

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