SPECIAL REPORT: Truckers slow New Orleans port operations - OOIDA urges caution

| 4/23/2003

Port of New Orleans officials are reporting a 50 percent cargo volume drop as a strike by independent truckers continues at the port’s two container entry locations -- they earlier reported a 40 percent drop.

Each of the participating truckers works as a contractor for one of about 20 local trucking firms that provide dispatching services and act as middlemen between the drivers and shipping companies. The truckers are concerned about the rising costs of buying and maintaining their rigs, purchasing their fuel and paying for their own insurance and licensing.

Meanwhile, rumors have surfaced concerning personal property damage, rock throwing and tire-cutting incidents said to affect truckers who opt to do business as usual. New Orleans Harbor Police told Land Line there have been no incidents.

Port Authority Communications Manager Paul Dauphin said, “We have been getting people spreading rumors that trucks have been damaged or that rocks have been thrown. We have police on duty 24 hours a day at the two ports. There are a lot of eyes out there, and nothing has happened.”

However, sources told Land Line the truckers know each other and where they park, so it’s possible some damage is done at night away from port areas. Most of the truckers are short-haul drivers who carry containers and other port cargo between local wharves, warehouses and railroad yards.

"Any drivers loading to go to the Port of New Orleans may not know anything about this situation - I would urge them to be cautious," Todd Spencer, executive vice president of the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association, said. "There are darned few trucking companies that would tell you ahead of time if you were headed into a hot spot."

--by Dick Larsen, senior editor

Dick Larsen can be reached at dlarsen@landlinemag.com.