LA, Long Beach port officials delay decision on truck ban, drivers status

| Friday, September 21, 2007

The proposed clean trucks program that would ban pre-2007 trucks from the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and require all drivers to be company employees has been postponed.

Commissions for both ports had scheduled a joint meeting for 8:30 a.m. Friday, Sept. 21, to consider approving a plan to overhaul the port’s operation to remove the oldest of the 16,000 trucks that visit the port daily.

A Port of Long Beach employee confirmed to Land Line Friday that the meeting had been cancelled and that no replacement date had been announced.

Critics have said the L.A./Long Beach plan is the first in a series of moves the Teamsters are expected to make as they move to establish power at ports across the country.

Initially, the goal was to begin the program Jan. 1, 2008. However, port news Web sites such as www.cunninghamreport.com have published reports doubting whether that goal will be met.

Under the proposed plan, by 2012, only licensed concessionaires would gain entry to the port, and a limited number of concessionaires could be licensed. An application process would score companies and would award more points to companies with more employees and larger financial assets.

Owner-operators have expressed concern about their ability to access freight coming into or leaving the port and whether they’ll be charged excessive fees by concessionaires of the port.

The California Trucking Association released a statement Thursday, Sept. 20, saying its members have unequivocally opposed “any plans that would deny independent operators the choice to remain self-employed.”

“Stripping independent operators of their choice to remain independent is unacceptable and frankly, un-American,” said the CTA. “Self-employed operators don’t want to be forced to become employees.”

The National Resources Defense Council issued its own statement Thursday criticizing the ports for not moving fast enough to remove dirty trucks.

“The ports have met some of their targets but they are failing to achieve several important milestones that will result in a noticeable improvement in the air we breathe,” said Melissa Lin Perrella, NRDC staff attorney. “The ports need to explain how a pattern of inaction and delay will ever lead us to clean air.”

The federal government’s implementation of the Transportation Worker Identification Credential or TWIC and its requirement of proof of U.S. residency status is expected to lower the number of port employees.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer
charlie_morasch@landlinemag.com

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