California port truckers will protest, reportedly strike

| 12/14/2009

Several port truck driver associations are saying they’ll protest a pending state diesel emission rule on Wednesday, Dec. 16 – and some drayage drivers may even strike.

According to the California-based National Port Drivers Association, independent truckers at the Port of Long Beach are scheduled to form a protest caravan on Wednesday – two weeks before many trucks will be banned from the port.

The trucks are protesting California’s Port Drayage Rule, which goes into effect next month.

Written by the California Air Resources Board, the state Port Drayage Rule prohibits trucks with 1993 or older engines from entering ports and intermodal rail yards beginning on Jan. 1, 2010. Also on New Year’s Day, trucks with model year 1994-2003 engines must be equipped with a CARB-approved diesel particulate filter.

The CARB port rule is different from local port plans adopted by ports at Los Angeles, Long Beach, and Oakland, which have their own equipment limits.

According to the Cunningham Report, the Northern California Port and Rail Trucker Association said truckers in Oakland and Southern California may strike Wednesday and Thursday.

Anthony Patchett, an attorney who volunteers his time for the National Port Driver’s Association, told Land Line Now Reporter Reed Black that the drayage rule's enforcement couldn't have come at a worse time for truck owners.

“This is a campaign to take out the independent truckers throughout the United States because they’re the ones who service our rails and ports, and they’re not going to be able to work,” Patchett said. “(California is) $21 billion in the red; how much more in the red do you want to push us?”

Patchett said state regulators should keep an eye on the big picture of pollution sources.

“Trucks 20 and 30 years ago used to put out a lot more pollution than they do now,” Patchett said. “It’s sad that our government doesn’t realize they’re affecting not just truckers, but everyone else who serves them.”

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A CARB spokeswoman told Land Line Monday that the agency is aware of the strike, but said there are no changes planned for implementation of the drayage rule on Jan. 1.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer

Land Line Now Reporter Reed Black contributed to this report.