Long Beach councilwoman calls for trucking task force

| 1/11/2007

In Long Beach, CA, a city councilwoman is calling for a task force on the independent truckers who work out of the region's ports.

Suja Lowenthal, councilwoman for the city's second district, told "Land Line Now" on XM Satellite Radio the truckers have bad wages and working conditions, and that their trucks - many of which are old - produce at least 30-percent of the pollutants in the area.

She said she hopes a regional task force will come up with programs to replace or retrofit the trucks, as well as improve economic conditions for the truckers.

"What we've created is this 'race to the bottom,'" she said, borrowing a phrase from author and trucking expert, Michael Belzer, in his book "Sweatshop on Wheels."

"Whatever driver . can do it for an incremental amount less, that's what wins out. That race to the bottom has created a broken system," said Lowenthal. "It's really market-destructive."

Lowenthal said truckers who work at the ports in Australia are much better off because the government has set minimum prices for the shipment of freight.

- By Reed Black, staff writer