Tuesday, September 27, 2011

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Court tosses clean truck employee provision at Port of L.A.

The U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals tossed the “employee provision” of the clean trucks program at the Port of Los Angeles out on Monday, allowing for the continued hiring of independent owner-operators for port drayage services.

The contention by the Port of Los Angeles, with support from labor groups like the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, was that the lower-income, independent drivers would not be as able to afford upgrading from older rigs to newer, more expensive trucks that can burn cleaner fuel.

The American Trucking Associations had challenged the employee provision over reported fears of unionization on a national scale of the independent port truck drivers, and that it was in violation of federal law.

“This plan was never about clean air, it was about promoting special interests of a few well-connected, labor groups,” said Bill Graves, president and CEO of the ATA in a statement responding the circuit court’s decision.

“Successful clean trucks plans in Long Beach, Seattle and the Ports of New York and New Jersey have shown you can improve air quality without forcing owner-operators out of your port,” Graves said.

On its website, the Port of Los Angeles issued a statement that said: “The Ninth Circuit court affirmed that all provisions of the Port of Los Angeles concession agreement are enforceable except for one, reversing the decision on the employee driver requirement, which was permanently enjoined.”

The port’s statement goes on to say that it would “refrain from enforcing the employee driver provision.”

The Port of L.A., according to the Appeals Court ruling, can continue to impose other clean truck conditions on its property that includes emissions and safety requirements.

“While some elements of the court’s decision are a disappointment, RILA welcomes the strong comments from the court overturning the Port of Los Angeles’ attempt to dictate the relationship between shippers and their drayage providers,” said Kelly Kolb, vice president of global supply chain policy for the Retail Industry Leaders Association in a statement.

“Today’s decision affirms RILA’s perspective that partnerships that include port stakeholders including shippers, drayage operators and port authorities, are the pathway to achieving the shared goals of reduced emissions and uninterrupted commerce,” Kolb said.



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