Port of Portland commissioners have approved an incentive program to entice container-shipping companies to continue visiting the city amid a decline in productivity.

The commissioners voted 7-2 on Wednesday to pay $10 per container to carriers who stop at the port. The program is capped at $1 million and expires at the end of 2013.

Port of Portland spokesman Josh Thomas says the incentive is needed because there has been a sustained decrease in productivity since two unions got into a dispute last May over which was entitled to perform the work of plugging and unplugging refrigerated shipping containers.

The International Longshore and Warehouse Union criticized the program, saying in a statement that terminal operator ICTSI Oregon Inc. has mismanaged operations since taking over two years ago.

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