NYC, Newark mayors endorse L.A.-style port truck programs

| 10/20/2009

New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Newark Mayor Cory Booker announced their support this week for the clean truck program in place at the Port of Los Angeles.

One OOIDA expert, however, says the mayors are missing the boat when it comes to cutting emissions and improving port efficiency.

On Sunday, Oct. 18, Bloomberg and Booker stood before dozens of port drivers, residents, labor advocates and others at the Port of New York/New Jersey and called for Congress to amend a federal law that could prevent some truck driver employee mandates.

The mayors of New York, Newark, and Oakland have indicated they want Congress to amend the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, which the American Trucking Associations has argued pre-empts employee-only driver requirements at the Port of Los Angeles.

“We must have a federal framework that allows local port authorities to implement market-based solutions to replicate L.A.’s clean-air successes on both coasts and create a level playing field for responsible businesses ready to compete and grow in a green economy,” said Amy Goldsmith, director of the New Jersey Environmental Federation.

The Port of Long Beach reportedly has reached an agreement with the American Trucking Associations to end the ATA’s lawsuit.

OOIDA’s Joe Rajkovacz spent part of last week visiting Terminal Island at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and he said the mayors are missing the mark.

Rajkovacz, OOIDA regulatory affairs specialist and a trucker for 29 years, said he witnessed widespread indifference by many marine terminal operators who appeared not to efficiently man their gates and speed up turn times.

“It boggles the mind that supposedly intelligent people think the real issue is driver status,” Rajkovacz said. “The number one problem frustrating an owner-operator’s earnings potential is the lack of attention by ports and marine terminal operators to allow drivers to quickly make a turn. Driver status, whether it’s an owner-operator or employee driver, will not change this dynamic.

“Let’s say everyone becomes an employee driver; they’ll still sit for hours, uncompensated at the ports.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer