Anywhere from 50 to 100 truckers withstood freezing temperatures as they protested at the Port of Baltimore on Friday, Feb. 1. Delays of up to eight hours have drained the wallets of drivers, and some are blaming a lack of staff and equipment for the long delays.
Dozens of truckers have been picketing outside the Port of Baltimore this week in response to hours of delay time that are costing truckers who are paid by the load. According to the Baltimore Sun, about 50 truckers took part. A trucker who spoke with Land Line Now said that about 100 truck drivers showed up.
Despite a $12 million investment last year that added six more cranes to the port, congestion is still causing truckers to wait for up to eight hours. Ty, a trucker at the protest who asked his last name be withheld, told Land Line Now that by the time they get a load, they are nearly out of hours. The driver also said that a trucker can burn a quarter of a tank of fuel at the port, further cutting into expenses that drivers will never recover.
Last June, the Maryland Port Administration reported that the port recorded its best quarter ever in its 312-year history. In 2017, the port experienced a record year for containers. The increased business may be part of the problem, as some truckers are claiming the port is not doing enough to keep up with the demand.
Kenyon, another trucker at the port who spoke with Land Line Now also asking his last name be withheld, said that the Port of Baltimore and the International Longshoremen’s Association have been at odds in recent negotiations. Even though the port invested in more equipment, Kenyon said not enough people are operating the equipment.
“You can have plenty of equipment, but if you’re not staffed properly, that’s going to cause a delay,” Kenyon said.
On Jan. 24, the port was closed to trucks for more than two hours as a result of issues with the ILA and the Steamship Trade Association.
When asked why not contract with a company away from the port, Kenyon gave a few reasons why truckers want to stay. First, one benefit of port driving is that truckers are off on the weekends. Many drivers don’t want to lose family time by driving other freight. Second, port drivers have the potential to earn more money if the hours of delay go away. Perhaps more importantly, there is always going to be someone hauling port freight.
“We can go and lease, go over-the-road, and deal with other companies and deal with other types of freight,” Kenyon said. “Of course we can do that, but that’s not going to solve the problem for the people who are not going to do that. The issue is still going to stand.”
Land Line Now’s Mary McKenna contributed to this report.
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