This is a time of great anticipation for the Port of Baltimore. A state-of-the-art marine terminal recently opened, promising major cost-savings for large shippers. Modernization plans for other port terminals are under way. Business and labor leaders are exhibiting a determined, cooperative attitude. These are signs of substantial progress in restoring Baltimore to maritime prominence.
And yet, there is apprehension on the docks. No one is sure if the new Seagirt Marine Terminal will, indeed, lure big-time customers to Baltimore. The economic recession could put a crimp in maritime traffic. And difficult negotiations on a new local union contract could negate recent efforts to put Baltimore back in competition for business with other East Coast ports.
The labor situation is the most crucial and unstable element in the port's future. If longshoremen refuse to make concessions to lower port costs, they could drive away more cargo from Baltimore. If dockworkers strike over contract matters, Baltimore's reputation as a port with a bad labor situation will be reenforced. But if a local contract is signed that leads to savings of time and money for shippers, Baltimore could be ready to launch a strong comeback in 1991.