More groups stand against change that could ban owner-ops from ports

| 3/30/2010

The Teamsters and others are lobbying Congress to change the FAAAA to allow ports to ban owner-operators.

One congressman is opposing those lobbying efforts.

Rep. Gary Miller, R-CA, recently stated his opposition to a proposal to change the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act – a law that prevents local jurisdictions and states from regulating interstate trucking and commerce.

In 2008, the Port of Los Angeles adopted a Clean Truck Program that will eventually allow only company truck drivers on the port, though that requirement has been delayed pending a lawsuit filed by the American Trucking Associations.

In addition to fighting the ATA lawsuit in court, port leaders and the Union want the FAAAA changed to allow port authorities to regulate who can operate trucks in their jurisdictions.

Miller joined the ATA, American Association of Port Authorities, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce and the National Association of Manufacturers in opposing the FAAAA change.

“We believe that protecting our environment by reducing truck emissions is an important mission that we must undertake, and it is easy to see that our nation’s ports play a vital role in that effort,” Rep. Miller's letter said.

“Industry stakeholders, including many small businesses, have shown that they are taking a proactive approach to meeting environmental goals as they have made significant investments in clean equipment. It is important that we do not get distracted by unnecessary provisions and mandates that are not related to environmental goals and could have long term, negative consequences on interstate commerce.”

OOIDA is working to protect the rights of truck drivers to make port calls without having to pay expensive fees to trucks that are licensed with port access. The Association worked with the port to create a day-pass system to allow occasional port visits by truckers after the port approved the Clean Truck Program.

Joe Rajkovacz, OOIDA director of regulatory affairs, said owner operators who work daily at ports like the Port of Los Angeles often have difficult working conditions, low pay, and questionable equipment to work with. Rajkovacz said lobbying to restrict port access, however, could lead to unintended consequences at some ports.

“Unquestionably, conditions faced by owner-operators working out of ports are difficult. But instead of focusing on real issues that frustrate earnings opportunities for owner-operators – such as port dwell time, shoddy chassis and containers, and violations of leasing regulations by motor carriers – all the attention with the FAAAA is about the employment status of the driver. Amending the FAAAA will do nothing to address the root causes of problems and ignores quicker fixes to issues if existing regulations had meaningful enforcement.”

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer