Harbor Commission tackles Trucker issues

At the conclusion of a three-hour hearing Wednesday on working conditions for drayage drivers, the Board of Harbor Commissioners directed staff to address drivers’ concerns and develop recommendations to improve the efficiency of trucking at the Port of Long Beach.

Harbor Commission President Tracy Egoscue said the men and women who drive the cargo trucks are an important part of the supply chain and should not be overlooked.

“Our goal is to work with our stakeholders to bring efficiencies in the system, to make it easier for truckers to do their jobs, for example by reducing turn times and broadening the use of appointments,” Egoscue said. “We understand the difficult work these drivers do on a daily basis, and how critical it is to the goods movement industry and the economy.”

About 17,000 trucks are registered to work in the San Pedro Bay ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. There are nearly 2,000 licensed trucking companies that contract with or employ the truckers who drive at the ports. In 2017, there were 3.8 million truck moves in the Port of Long Beach alone.

The meeting was held at the request of the Long Beach City Council Tidelands and Harbor Committee. In the hearing, participants discussed worker classification issues, driver pay, labor supply, working conditions, operations, efficiencies and more.

Port staff will also prepare a meeting summary for the Long Beach City Council. Staff also plans to report back to the Board of Harbor Commissioners by the end of the year with recommendations.

During Wednesday’s hearing, a panel of trucking trade associations and terminal operators testified about the trucking system in the San Pedro Bay. A truck driver and Teamsters union representatives also testified, as well as a representative from state Sen. Ricardo Lara’s office.

Lara authored Senate Bill 1402. Signed by Gov. Jerry Brown, the law creates a public list of companies that commit violations of labor laws against drivers who work in ports. If retailers hire such a company, they are held jointly liable for unpaid judgments against the carriers.

The Port of Long Beach is one of the world’s premier seaports, a gateway for trans-Pacific trade and a trailblazer in goods movement and environmental stewardship. With 140 shipping lines connecting Long Beach to 217 seaports, the Port handles $194 billion in trade annually, supporting thousands of Southern California jobs.