Long Beach Port has been blasted by an environmental group and labor organizations, such as the Teamsters, for its willingness to treat independent truckers fairly under the Clean Trucks Program. According to The Journal of Commerce, the Natural Resources Defense Council wants Long Beach City Council to review the settlement between the port and the American Trucking Associations (ATA) last month.
NRDC wrote a letter to the council opposing the registration agreement, which would allow compliant owner-operators and independent truckers to load at the port. The group said the settlement “erodes the environmental benefits of the clean truck program,” and wants the concession agreement reinstated, like at the Los Angeles Port. A convoy to protest L.A. Port’s harsh stance recently rolled up I-710 and past the L.A. City Hall, trying to bring attention to the unfair requirement.
The Oct. 19 settlement dropped the controversial motor carrier concessions requirements, which force drivers to become employees of larger companies. Instead, the truckers would still have to meet strict emissions standards, but would still retain independence. Under the concession requirements, owner-operators and independent truckers would be shut out from the port by 2013, whether or not they make costly upgrades or purchase new, environmentally-compliant equipment.
The heart of the matter may the unionizing issue. Direct employees can be unionized, explained the JOC article. Owner-operators legally can’t. David Pettit, lead attorney for the NRDC in Los Angeles, said the employee-driver requirement isn’t an issue with their complaint, but rather that the harbor commission failed to review the settlement’s compliance with the California Environmental Quality Act, as state and city law requires.
Both the federal 9th Circuit Court of Appeals and the federal district court in L.A. ruled earlier this year that forcing independents into employment by motor carriers was illegal. The Long Beach deputy city attorney is looking into the complaint.