County, terminal operator drop lawsuits against truckers

| 4/19/2005

Miami-Dade County and Universal Terminal Service Corp. have dropped lawsuits they filed against the leaders of a trucker’s strike that shut down the Port of Miami-Dade in June 2004.

However, The Miami Herald reported that the claim of a third party, Port of Miami Terminal Operating Co., remains active pending court-ordered mediation with the drivers.

The truckers, represented by the not-for-profit Support Trucking Group, told the Herald that – while they are relieved that the suits had been dropped – they are still experiencing problems at the port including long wait times, overweight containers and pollution.

For it’s part, the Florida county issued a memo stating that it would work with truckers to help resolve the problems. The port is already setting up a system that will randomly weigh containers leaving the terminals in an effort to determine the extent of the overweight container problem.

The lawsuit stemmed from a strike by 700 owner-operators in June 2004. The truckers said the port operators were not doing enough to speed up wait times. Drivers were only paid $50 per container hauled, so each hour of extended wait time was one less container they could haul.

The Port of Miami Operating Co., however, said that truckers who didn’t make sure their containers had cleared U.S. Customs were to blame for the wait times.

The truckers brought traffic at the port to a near-total stop for two weeks, until a federal judge ordered an end to the strike in July 2004.

– By Terry Scruton, senior writer