Searchable Goods Movement Timeline

Welcome to the METRANS Goods Movement Timeline. This is a searchable timeline of activities tied to goods movement, logistics and international trade based upon items from the popular press.

Given our location and the importance of this region as an international trade gateway, many of the entries pertain to Southern California. We do however draw from state and national press as well. Some articles' links may have expired, or you may have to pay a fee or register on the Web site where they originally appeared to access the complete article. Our goal however is to provide the researcher with enough information to track significant events over time as they have occurred in key areas like legislation, finance, and security.

This timeline grew out of timelines initially developed for METRANS research projects in the area of goods movement. Earlier entries (before 2005) were therefore not prepared with a searchable database in mind and will be less detailed. We hope, however, that they remain a useful resource.

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Jan 18, 2011

TSA looks to expedite screening for air cargo on US-bound passenger planes

Online Edition

The Transportation Security Administration is moving ahead, on a faster-than-expected timetable, to close a gap in security screening of international air cargo carried aboard US-bound passenger flights.

Air freight forwarders and members of the global shipping industry learned Friday that TSA appears poised to require them to screen, by year's end, 100 percent of such cargo bound for the United States. That would be two years sooner than expected.

Just last year, the TSA told Congress that screening 100 percent of international in-bound air cargo would be delayed until at least 2013. But TSA is looking to accelerate that timetable after the terrorist bombing attempt in late October, in which explosives were secreted inside printer cartridges sent from Yemen to Chicago – and were intended to blow up in cargo holds of passenger jets while they were in the air. [Editor's note: The last two paragraphs were changed post-publication to make clear that the requirement is not yet final.]

Carriers now have 45 days to comment on the proposed mandate, with TSA reviewing industry comments before it makes the rule final.

A push to screen all cargo was a response to "the latest threats and the considerable progress made by industry in screening international inbound cargo," James Fotenos, a TSA spokesman, wrote in an e-mail. "TSA’s mission is to ensure the safety of the traveling public.... After the thwarted attempt by terrorists to ship explosives aboard aircraft headed to this country last October, TSA immediately took a number of steps to enhance security by tightening existing air cargo."

Among those steps for US-bound international flights, TSA ordered a ban on any cargo designated as "high risk." Other safeguards, meanwhile, heavily restricted small packages sent by mail, which often travel in the cargo holds of passenger aircraft.

The policies, combined with bad weather, meant that some people in the US waited weeks to get their packages, especially over Christmas when there was a big jump in the amount of intercontinental mail. In some cases, the US Postal Service was forced to reroute US-bound mail, putting it on air-cargo-only flights and even ships.

"I had a batch of items sent to the US on the 26th November that took ages," wrote Chocolatecatgirl, an eBay seller in Britain who sells items in the US. "One customer got snotty after 2 weeks and I had to refund."

Delays have lessened as mail volume has dropped – and as postal systems abroad have become familiar with US requirements, say US Postal Service and air cargo experts.

But will new air freight requirements cause the same kind of disruption with air cargo that occurred with small mailed packages in December?

"TSA continues to work with the air cargo industry to implement the robust security measures with the least amount of impact on the flow of air cargo and mail inbound to the US," Mr. Fotenos wrote.

Freight forwarders, who use the cargo holds of passenger aircraft to move thousands of tons of freight each day, have long resisted a requirement of 100 percent screening, arguing that it would throw a monkey wrench into the finely tuned global supply chain.

"International aviation authorities ... suggest that screening all international cargo may not improve security and would likely cause economic damage to our slowly recovering economy," Brandon Fried, executive director of the Airforwarders Association, wrote in an e-mail. "TSA is aware of the challenges and criticisms of the Congressionally-mandated screening regime, and we are hopeful they will thoughtfully address these during the comment period.” [Editor's note: The original paragraph has been changed to make clear who suggests that comprehensive cargo screening may not improve security.]

Freight forwarders, he said, prefer "risk-based freight assessments," in which air cargo is evaluated for higher-risk items that are then screened, rather than requiring screening of all items. In November, Mr. Fried urged Congress to "reject additional calls for 100 percent screening of inbound cargo."

After 9/11, Congress approved the Aviation and Transportation Security Act of 2001. It required screening of "all passengers and property transported on passenger planes," including air cargo aboard those planes – about 7,500 tons per day.

By mid-2007, TSA had improved passenger screening but still wasn't doing the job with air cargo, the Department of Homeland Security Office of Inspector General said in a report titled "Transportation Security Administration’s Oversight of Passenger Aircraft Cargo Security Faces Significant Challenges." TSA oversight "does not provide assurance that air carriers are meeting congressionally-mandated goals," the report found. "Consequently, the process increases the opportunities for the carriage of explosives, incendiaries, and other dangerous devices on passenger aircraft."

To fix such problems, the 9/11 Commission Act of 2007 mandated that the Department of Homeland Security (TSA is an arm of DHS) physically screen at least 50 percent of passenger aircraft cargo on both domestic and incoming foreign passenger flights to the US by February 2009. All such cargo was to be screened by August 2010.

Now the 100 percent target for international incoming cargo is Dec. 31, 2011.

Of course, TSA could simply refuse admittance to flights that are not inspected to its standards. But that could also produce acute economic hardship for passengers who would have to pay more to fly to the US without the economic bonus of cargo in the hold beneath their feet.

[Editor's note: The original version of the headline and subhead was changed to reflect the fact that TSA's action is a proposal.]

Online Edition

The Transportation Security Administration is moving ahead, on a faster-than-expected timetable, to close a gap in security screening of international air cargo carried aboard US-bound passenger flights.

Air freight forwarders and members of the global shipping industry learned Friday that TSA appears poised to require them to screen, by year's end, 100 percent of such cargo bound for the United States. That would be two years sooner than expected.

Jul 30, 2018

Long Beach port shipper COSCO working to recover from last week’s cyberattack

Online Edition

A week after a massive cyberattack hit COSCO Shipping’s U.S. operations, the Shanghai-based shipper’s Long Beach offices continued efforts to recover from the incident.

As of Monday, Cosco’s Long Beach offices as well as others in the U.S., were still conducting business using temporary Yahoo email addresses rather than company email, according to a notice released by the company.

As the business week opened, a scaled-down version of COSCO’s U.S. website contained only links to a handful of notices regarding the attack and measures the shipper has taken to restore service.

Company officials did not respond to media questions Monday, communicating only via prepared statements.

The July 24 attack took down the shipper’s U.S. network, the company acknowledged last week.

Related problems extended to COSCO’s communication to Canada and numerous Central and South American countries, including Panama, Brazil and Argentina, the company said in a July 30 statement.

“We are working … to process all the service requests received previously, and the service response is expected to be back on track within this week,” the statement said. “Global networks of COSCO Shipping Lines are safe and stable.”

COSCO officials have not said if they know who committed the attack or what steps it will take to prevent another.

Although the company’s phone lines and email have been down in Long Beach for the past week, Port of Long Beach spokesman Lee Peterson said that the port terminal that services COSCO vessels was not greatly affected by the attack.

That’s because, Peterson said, the property is a joint venture with SSA Marine, which uses a separate computer system from COSCO.

““Pier J has been up and running, and they’ve been able to keep the cargo moving,” Peterson said.

SSA Marine did not return a phone call and email requesting comment. Craig Merrilees, spokesman for the International Longshore & Warehouse Union that assigns Pier J’s marine-desk clerks, also did not respond to queries.

The latest cyberattack, while significant, does not appear to be as large or harmful as the June 2017 incident during which Danish shipper AP-Moller Maersk was forced to shut down its Port of Los Angeles terminal for three days.

The ransomware attack temporarily crippled the company’s operations on a global scale and cost the shipper an estimated $300 million in lost productivity.

Online Edition

A week after a massive cyberattack hit COSCO Shipping’s U.S. operations, the Shanghai-based shipper’s Long Beach offices continued efforts to recover from the incident.

As of Monday, Cosco’s Long Beach offices as well as others in the U.S., were still conducting business using temporary Yahoo email addresses rather than company email, according to a notice released by the company.

Jul 25, 2018

Long Beach’s port and city college partner to help students get jobs in the maritime industry

Online Edition

Students eyeing maritime jobs will get their own training program at Long Beach City College, with workshops beginning as early as this winter.

The community college will open a special center dedicated to training students for careers as middle managers, supervisors and clerks throughout the multi-trillion dollar shipping industry, after the Board of Harbor Commissioners this week approved a one-year contract between the Port of Long Beach and the school.

Under the contract – which goes into effect Wednesday, Aug. 1 – the global shipping hub will give the college $60,000 to develop the Port of Long Beach Maritime Center of Excellence. The center’s goal will be to bring more young workers into a booming maritime transportation industry, which in 2016 was projected to grow 8 percent by 2026, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

The program, City College and port officials said, will be mutually beneficially – allowing the shipping industry to replenish its pool of talent and providing well-paying jobs to typically disadvantaged communities. The industry’s median salary, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, is $55,590 annually.

“This will no doubt address the need for training skilled workers for in-demand, high-paying jobs in the maritime, transportation and goods movement industry,” said Kathy Scott, the college’s vice president for academic affairs. “This program will benefit our most disproportionately impacted students, including our African American and our Latino students.”

The program will likely roll out in stages, beginning with a boot camp in the winter session. That workshop, lasting a few weeks and not worth any credits, would give students a taste of the various industries and office jobs at or around the port, such as supervising distribution, or doing clerical work for shipping and receiving companies.

“What’s been identified is a need for workforce training and development on these middle skills occupations,” said port spokeswoman Kerry Gerot said. “This, for us, really helps to close the gap in what we have in our educational program umbrella at the Port of Long Beach.”

But full classes could take longer to get going.

Officials have not yet worked out all the details of the program, such as whether it should offer a certificate or a two-year degree, or what the curriculum will be. And any courses that give students credit for completion will have to go through a months-long approval process, starting with the curriculum committee and ending with City College’s Board of Trustees.

That process could take 18 months, said Harbor Commission President Lou Anne Bynum,  meaning full classes wouldn’t begin until at least the spring 2020 semester – more than half a year after the contract between the port and the college is set to end.

The port could extend the contract, Bynum said, but it’s too soon to tell if that might happen. In the meantime, But, the partners will look for grants and other funding to support the program.

“If it’s successful,” she said, “I think the port would want to continue to support it.”

Online Edition

Students eyeing maritime jobs will get their own training program at Long Beach City College, with workshops beginning as early as this winter.

The community college will open a special center dedicated to training students for careers as middle managers, supervisors and clerks throughout the multi-trillion dollar shipping industry, after the Board of Harbor Commissioners this week approved a one-year contract between the Port of Long Beach and the school.

Aug 01, 2018

End of Uber autonomous truck effort shows capacity relief still ways off

Online Edition

Uber, for a time the public face of autonomous trucking, is halting, at least for now, its efforts to produce a self-driving truck. The company will focus instead on self-driving cars. The change in strategy, first reported Monday by online news site Tech Crunch, was revealed in an email from Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, to Uber ATG employees.

“We’ve decided to stop development on our self-driving truck program and move forward exclusively with cars,” he said in a separate statement. “We recently took the important step of returning to public roads in Pittsburgh, and as we look to continue that momentum, we believe having our entire team’s energy and expertise focused on this effort is the best path forward.”

The immediate shipper impact of Uber’s decision is this: it does not end trucking’s autonomous dreams, but shippers should not expect “driverless” trucks to solve the US truck capacity problem anytime soon.

With digital brokerage Uber Freight expanding, the company decided it does not need to immediately develop autonomous trucks to remain competitive in the US freight market. The decision underscores not inconsiderable differences between passenger and commercial vehicle markets when it comes to developing and deploying autonomous technologies.

Uber has spent a lot of money, or stock, on autonomous trucks, starting with its acquisition of Otto, an autonomous truck developer founded by former Waymo and Google executives, for equity in 2016. Earlier this year, Waymo dropped a lawsuit against Uber claiming one of those executives, Anthony Levandowski, had stolen trade secrets for $245 million in Uber equity.

The strategic shift, however, reflects the importance of autonomous cars to Uber’s core ridesharing business. The company said it will “pivot” employees currently working on autonomous trucks to support the self-driving car business, offering relocation or separation packages to those currently working at its autonomous truck design and testing facilities.

Meyhofer referred to the resumption of tests of autonomous cars in Pittsburgh, which had been suspended in March after an autonomous car with a test driver was involved in a fatal accident in Tempe, Arizona. Meyhofer last week announced new safety standards for Uber’s car tests. The cars will operate in “manual” mode, with two “mission specialists” assigned to each car.

As noted, Uber’s decision to shift gears doesn’t end trucking’s autonomous dreams. Plenty of companies are pursuing driver-assisted or driverless commercial vehicles, including Embark, Waymo, TuSimple, Tesla, Starsky Robotics, and traditional truck manufacturers such as Daimler. There also are several levels of autonomy and different operating models for the trucks.

However, if any shippers expected “driverless” trucks to solve trucking’s driver shortage problem anytime soon, Uber’s withdrawal from the market should give them pause.

Competing visions of how autonomous trucking will hit the road divide the technology community, with some focusing on developing long-haul, irregular-route, over-the-road business models, with others pursuing more “closed loop” operations based on defined routes and even short-haul or site-specific applications. Think yard trucks shuttling containers or trailers.

As recently as March, Uber envisioned a future where more truck drivers will be engaged in short-haul relays between pickup and destination points and transfer hubs located along highways. In its most recent test, short-haul drivers in California hauled trailers to the Arizona border, where they exchanged them with drivers of autonomous trucks.

Those autonomous trucks (which also had a driver in the cab) then took that freight, theoretically, for the long haul, with another transfer hub and short-haul driver waiting on the other end of the trip. The experiment blended the autonomous technology developed by Uber ATG with the brokerage and technology platform developed for Uber Freight.

The long-haul model for autonomous trucking built around transfer hubs harkens back to less-than-truckload hub-and-spoke linehaul networks and even the original freight depot and horse wagon model pioneered by railroads in the 19th century. Embark, which recently received $30 million in funding, also sees the long haul as the target market for autonomous trucks.

In a partnership with Ryder System and Electrolux, Embark is testing autonomous tractor-trailers on a 650-mile route, delivering Frigidaire refrigerators. Ryder’s trucks and drivers ferries freight from distribution centers to transfer points near Interstates, and Embark’s autonomous trucks — each with an actual driver — then take the load on the long run.

Like its competitors, Waymo has been testing autonomous trucks in California and Arizona, and in March launched an autonomous truck pilot with shippers and carriers in the Atlanta area, “integrating with their network of factories, distribution centers, ports and terminals,” the company said. Those “driverless” trucks are all manned by truck drivers who monitor systems.

TuSimple, a US-Chinese joint venture, is working on a different operating model, one focused more on running highly autonomous vehicles over defined, regular routes. “We will map a route, and typically we’re going to map highways, near-highway surface streets, and distribution centers and closed environments,” said Chuck Price, TuSimple vice president of product.

For example, TuSimple plans to test autonomous trucks at seaports in China this year. “We’re going to automate all the way to the dock,” Price said. “We have developed basically a spotter vehicle, a hostler, with Shaanxi Auto Group. It’s a modified day cab, a little bigger than the typical hostler. It’s a vehicle that can work in ports with other automated equipment.”

In the United States, TuSimple is building its own freight-hauling fleet to test its technology in Arizona. The company is partnering with PACCAR subsidiary Peterbilt and visual computing technology firm NVIDIA to develop a high-level autonomous control based on high-definition cameras, radar, and computers, rather than Lidar, the laser-based scanning technology used by Uber and others.

Price sees parcel services as well as motor carriers as potential customers. “Certainly anybody who is regularly moving truckloads of goods on a regular run,” he said. Drayage is a strong possibility, as well as intra-facility movements, not just ports but rail intermodal facilities,” he said. Trucks in those facilities won’t have to interact much, if at all, with the public.

There are as many potential routes for autonomous trucking, it would seem, as there are start-up companies in Silicon Valley. Uber’s withdrawal from the market — and the company isn’t saying “no, nay, never” to an eventual return — probably has more to do with the company’s larger corporate goals than the viability of autonomous trucking or truck technology.

The faster route may well be the shortest one. The challenge of setting up “closed loop” routes within or near ports, railyards, or distribution centers scales much differently than that of cross-country autonomous trucking. The motor truck, in fact, first replaced the horse truck in very local distribution before better roads and highways led to intercity and interstate trucking.

The next few years will prove whether or how transportation history repeats itself.

Online Edition

Uber, for a time the public face of autonomous trucking, is halting, at least for now, its efforts to produce a self-driving truck. The company will focus instead on self-driving cars. The change in strategy, first reported Monday by online news site Tech Crunch, was revealed in an email from Eric Meyhofer, head of Uber Advanced Technologies Group, to Uber ATG employees.

May 07, 2018

State Supreme Court Adopts New Test for Deciding Independent Contractor Status

Print Edition

The California Supreme Court has issued its much-anticipated decision on which test should be applied when determining whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor (Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, No. S222732 – April 30, 2018).

The case involved delivery drivers who sued a nationwide package and delivery company alleging they were misclassified as independent contractors and were unlawfully denied overtime among other wage-and-hour violations.

Court Ruling

The Court ruled in favor of the drivers, and, in doing so, has abandoned the long-standing “Borello test” (S.G. Borello & Sons, Inc. v. Department of Industrial Relations [1989] 48 Cal.3d 341) and adopted a new independent contractor test.

To distinguish between an employee and an independent contractor, the Court concluded that individuals are presumed to be employees, and a company classifying an individual as an independent contractor bears the burden of justifying that individual’s independent contractor classification under the “ABC test.”

The ABC test replaces the previously utilized “right to control” or “common law” test, which focused on the hiring entity’s ability to control how the work was performed.

More Restrictive Test

Under the more restrictive ABC test, an individual is presumed to be an employee, unless the company can prove all of the following:

• That the worker is free from control and direction of the hiring entity in connection with the performance of the work, both under the contract for the performance of the work and in fact; and

• That the worker performs work that is outside the usual course of the hiring entity’s business; and

• That the worker is customarily engaged in an independently established trade, occupation or business of the same nature as the work performed.

If the hiring entity fails to show that the individual worker satisfies each of the three criteria, the worker is treated as an employee, not an independent contractor.

The Court’s ruling will apply to disputes involving alleged violations of California’s Wage Orders adopted by California’s Industrial Welfare Commission (IWC). Following this decision, California employers will want to re-evaluate workers currently treated as independent contractors under the new ABC test to determine whether reclassification may be necessary.

CalChamber in Court

The California Chamber of Commerce filed both a letter brief urging the Court to decide what independent contractor test should be used, as well as a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Dynamex and the common law test under Borello.

The CalChamber legal affairs unit files friend-of-the-court briefs on behalf of CalChamber members and key industries to emphasize the impact that judicial decisions would have on California’s economy.

Print Edition

The California Supreme Court has issued its much-anticipated decision on which test should be applied when determining whether an individual is an employee or an independent contractor (Dynamex Operations West, Inc. v. Superior Court, No. S222732 – April 30, 2018).

The case involved delivery drivers who sued a nationwide package and delivery company alleging they were misclassified as independent contractors and were unlawfully denied overtime among other wage-and-hour violations.

Court Ruling

May 30, 2018

A loophole for dirty diesel trucks: Yet another attack on science by Trump’s EPA

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It's bad enough that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt wants to reopen a loophole that allows truckers to drive rebuilt rigs with dirty diesel engines that spew as much as 450 times more soot than new models. But now it turns out that Pruitt justified his plan with a questionable, company-funded study that is under investigation for "research misconduct."

Pruitt has spent the last year attacking the EPA's mission and undermining its integrity. He's bucked his own scientists' research in making decisions to weaken environmental rules. He's sought to stack EPA advisory boards with industry representatives.

Yet this dirty truck loophole is a particularly egregious example of how Pruitt is willing to ignore legitimate research — and overwhelming industry opinion — in favor of dubious analysis that supports his desire to roll back pollution rules to benefit politically connected special interests.

At issue are so-called glider kits, which have typically been used to give new life to engines and other components salvaged from trucks damaged in collisions. During the Obama administration, the EPA had sought to phase out these trucks after discovering that some companies were circumventing truck emissions standards by putting older, dirtier engines inside new truck shells. Last year, however, Pruitt proposed to exempt gliders from contemporary emission limits.

The vehicles look brand-new but cost 25% less to buy without the pollution controls required on newer trucks. EPA researchers found that gliders can emit up to 450 times more diesel soot and 40 times more smog-forming emissions than new trucks on the market. Agency staff also estimated the glider trucks produce enough soot each year to cause up to 1,600 premature deaths.

The broader trucking industry has opposed the loophole, arguing that it hurts truckers and truck manufacturers that have played by the rules.

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Yet Pruitt has justified the rollback in part by citing a study from Tennessee Tech University that declared glider trucks to be no more harmful to air quality than trucks with new engines. Turns out the study was funded by Fitzgerald Glider Kits, which happens to be one of the primary manufacturers of glider trucks.

According to The Times' Evan Halper, the study was run by a Tennessee Tech vice president with no graduate-level engineering training, and the research was conducted at a Fitzgerald-owned facility. The owner of the company, Tommy Fitzgerald, hosted a campaign event in 2016 for then-candidate Donald Trump, and he has met privately with Pruitt.

After faculty raised concern about the legitimacy of the study, Tennessee Tech opened an investigation, telling Halper, "The university takes the allegations of research misconduct seriously." The university has asked the EPA to stop using or referring to the study pending the completion of the investigation.

There's an extra special contradiction to Pruitt's embrace of the Tennessee Tech study. In the name of "transparency," Pruitt has proposed a rule requiring the EPA to consider only studies for which the underlying data are made public. The rule, which has been pushed by industry groups for years, would block the EPA from considering studies about the health impacts of pollutants that are based on the private medical records of individuals. But it could also apply to the questionable glider truck study because Fitzgerald's company is refusing to publicly release the full study, which it owns under its arrangement with the university.

In the meantime, two former EPA chiefs — one who served under a Democratic administration and one who served under a Republican administration — sent a letter to Pruitt expressing concern that the agency had "failed to rely on the best scientific analysis" in the proposed glider truck exemption.

And members of Congress from both parties have fired off letters to the EPA, complaining that the rollback for glider trucks was a bad idea. The broader trucking industry has opposed the loophole too, arguing that it hurts truckers and truck manufacturers that have played by the rules and invested in more expensive pollution control equipment.

Indeed, the California Trucking Assn. is so concerned about an unlevel playing field that it sponsored legislation calling for a $25,000 fine for truckers who drive a glider truck that violates California's strict air pollution controls. AB 2564 sailed through the Assembly with near unanimous support from Republicans and Democrats. State officials estimate that if just 7% of trucks on California roads are soot-belching gliders, it would entirely offset the clean-air benefits of the state's diesel regulations.

It's a rare day in American politics when there is such widespread, bipartisan support for a pollution control measure. Science, reason and consensus are all on the side of closing the dirty truck loophole once and for all. And then there's Pruitt on the other side.

Print Edition

It's bad enough that Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Scott Pruitt wants to reopen a loophole that allows truckers to drive rebuilt rigs with dirty diesel engines that spew as much as 450 times more soot than new models. But now it turns out that Pruitt justified his plan with a questionable, company-funded study that is under investigation for "research misconduct."

Jul 18, 2018

For the third time, cargo-handling company accused of violating rules in worker’s death at port

Online Edition

For the third time in six years, a branch of one of the world’s largest cargo-handling companies has been accused by workplace safety authorities of a willful violation linked to a worker’s death

The most recent case, stemming from a death at the Port of San Diego, also marked at least the seventh time in a decade that a worker for SSA Marine Inc. has been killed on the job, according to government records.

Cal/OSHA announced last week that it is seeking $205,235 in penalties from SSA Pacific Inc., a division of Seattle-based SSA Marine Inc., for violations related to the death of Phillip Vargas, a 54-year-old stevedore and member of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 29.

The accident occurred on Jan. 3 while Vargas was operating a Caterpillar forklift in San Diego. As he drove the lift into a storage shed, Vargas collided with a concrete support column, which threw him from the cab. Vargas suffered blunt force head and torso trauma from hitting the concrete floor and getting run over by the left wheel of the lift, according to a Cal/OSHA investigative summary. He was pronounced dead a few minutes later.

Cal/OSHA, the state agency that enforces worker health and safety standards in California, issued six citations to SSA Pacific, including one for willful safety violations, its most severe charge.

Ports are hazardous environments by nature, and many sea and rail terminal operators are cited for serious violations.  But citations classified as willful—meaning an employer committed an intentional and knowing violation, or was aware that a hazardous condition existed and did nothing to repair it—are not frequently issued to U.S. terminal operators.

SSA Marine, which is owned by the holding company Carrix Corp., operates marine and railway terminals at over 250 locations around the world, handling over 113.1 million tons of conventional cargo each year. As a private company, there is little public information about SSA Marine’s finances, but several estimates have pegged its annual revenue at somewhere around $1 billion to $2 billion.  Since 2016, the company’s SSA Pacific unit has been in the federal Severe Violator Enforcement Program, subjecting it to special scrutiny because of its track record of safety violations.

SSA earned its latest willful citation, Cal/OSHA said, because it had already been warned that it needed to do forklift safety checks and report unsafe conditions.  In 2016, a worker at the Port of Long Beach was hospitalized after he and a colleague improperly tried to hoist a 15-ton forklift from the hatch of a ship with a crane.

Vargas was not wearing a seatbelt when he was thrown from the lift, according to the Cal/OSHA investigative summary. A mechanic working with SSA discovered that the seatbelt was in working order, but that multiple safety devices on the lift had been disabled. This included a seatbelt warning buzzer and a system designed to disconnect power from the hydraulic lift when the operator is unseated.

“Forklift safety and training of operators must be taken seriously,” said Cal/OSHA Chief Juliann Sum in a press release. “Employers must ensure that seat belts are used and that safety devices such as warning systems to ensure seat belt use are not altered.”

It’s unclear whether Vargas’ family has filed a worker’s compensation claim. His wife, Heather Vargas, could not be reached, and the president of ILWU Local 29, Bryan Brooks, did not respond to several requests for comment.

SSA Pacific has appealed Cal/OSHA’s citations, according to an email from SSA Marine vice president Bob Watters.

“Safety has been and always will be the number [one] priority for SSA Marine operations,” Watters wrote. “Our primary goal is to provide our employees a safe and healthy work place.”

Watters said he was unable to comment on the San Diego case but cited several safety awards SSA Pacific has received in recent years from the Pacific Maritime Association.

Other safety issues surfaced in the other two SSA cases that triggered willful citations.

In November 2016, the U.S. Occupational and Safety Administration issued citations to SSA Pacific after 48-year-old longshoreman Jim Meadows fell to his death on a bulk carrier cargo ship at a pier in Longview, Washington. Instead of following rules that called for netting and temporary platforms to protect against falls, the company used “buddy systems” in which workers warned one another when one of them was working too close to hatches or risked falling overboard. The company is contesting a proposed $124,709 penalty.

Galen Blanton, OSHA regional administrator in Seattle, said in a press release in 2016 that Meadows death was preventable “if only a few common sense measures had been taken to prevent his fall and to protect his coworkers.”

SSA Marine was cited for a separate willful violation after Steve Saggiani, a 47-old-worker at the Port of Long Beach, was crushed to death by a 40-foot container on Jan. 19, 2012.

OSHA initially cited the company with three serious violations for exposing workers to crushing hazards and failing to provide accident prevention courses to supervisors, and one willful violation for allowing employees to work beneath a suspended container. The case was closed following a hearing before a review commission, but OSHA officials were unable to confirm before press time whether the violations were upheld.

Over the last decade, OSHA has recorded at least four other work-related deaths at SSA-operated terminals.

On July 8, 2008, an employee in Savannah, Georgia, with SSA Cooper LLC, a joint partnership between SSA Marine and another company, was crushed to death after a forklift knocked him between two bundles of 42-foot long pipes. OSHA cited the company for two serious violations, which were resolved in a settlement.

On Aug. 23 of that same year, a longshoreman at SSA Terminals in Oakland, California was knocked into the water by a 40-foot container. The Cal/OSHA investigative summary reported that he drowned before he could swim to safety, but news reports from the time indicate he treaded water for over a half-hour while coworkers frantically tried to find a ladder suitable for climbing down to reach him.

SSA faced citations for four serious violations and one repeat citation for a total of $63,000. The case settled with a penalty of $28,000.

On Nov. 4, 2010, an employee at SSA Marine Terminals in Long Beach was fatally injured after his utility tractor rig struck another vehicle. The impact ejected the employee from his vehicle, which continued to roll forward and crushed him. OSHA cited SSA for one serious violation, which was resolved in a settlement.

Another SSA employee death in a 2012 forklift accident in Washington did not trigger citations.

Injuries at SSA terminals haven’t been limited to employees. In 2011 a Los Angeles court ordered SSA Marine to pay $13.9 million to Felipe Curiel, a truck driver, who was severely injured after a 25,000-pound container was dropped on his cab in Long Beach. Shortly before Curiel’s accident, another driver at Long Beach, Pablo Garcia, was hit and killed by a tractor rig. This case resolved in a confidential settlement.

Spencer Lucas, an attorney with Panish Shea & Boyle LLP, represented Curiel and Garcia. He said he couldn’t speak to the safety standards of other SSA locations, but he saw serious issues at Terminal A in Long Beach.

“It seemed like a pretty pervasive disregard for safety at that SSA terminal,” Lucas said.

In 2016, the latest year for which statistics are available, 11 marine cargo handlers nationwide died on the job, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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For the third time in six years, a branch of one of the world’s largest cargo-handling companies has been accused by workplace safety authorities of a willful violation linked to a worker’s death

The most recent case, stemming from a death at the Port of San Diego, also marked at least the seventh time in a decade that a worker for SSA Marine Inc. has been killed on the job, according to government records.

Jul 03, 2018

Cleaner, greener electric truck fleet expected at ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles

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A $31.3 million fleet of 20 heavy-duty zero-emission electric trucks will be developed by Daimler, the world’s largest manufacturer of big rigs, and deployed at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles in a pilot project officials said is one of the largest such transportation initiatives under way at the ports complex.

The governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District is expected to approve the contract at its next meeting that begins at 9 a.m. Friday at the agency’s headquarters at 21865 Copley Drive, Diamond Bar.

“This is something we are supporting as part of our goal to develop zero-emission on road trucks,” said Chris Cannon, director of environmental management for the Port of Los Angeles. “It’s part of the Clean Air Action Plan the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles have committed to since 2005.”

“Our goal is to have all of the drayage trucks that service the ports to be zero emission by 2035,” he added. “It sounds like a long time from now, but it’s not. It’s going to be happening very soon.”

The Clean Trucks Program component of the larger action plan has reduced air pollution from harbor trucks by more than 90 percent in a little over three years, according to the Port of LA website.

The $15.67 million contract for what’s known as the Daimler Zero Emission Trucks and EV Infrastructure Project will develop the 20 trucks that will be used in “real-world commercial fleet operations” to gather data for the “commercial production and sales phase,” according to the AQMD staff report for the agenda item.

The two Daimler truck models to be developed will generate between 220 and 445 horsepower capable of hauling loads between 26,000 and 80,000 pounds and have a 150 mile to 200 mile service range.

The deployment of the trucks is likely several years away, Cannon said.

Fast-charging stalls will be installed capable of recharging the trucks up to 80 percent in between two and three hours.

Daimler will pay about half the cost of the program with the AQMD contributing about $8.7 million, the State Emissions Mitigation Fund kicking in $4.4 million, the ports adding another $1 million apiece and the Environmental Protection Agency $500,000.

“Daimler is the largest truck manufacturer in the United States and they are extremely experienced and knowledgeable in the development of heavy-duty trucks,” Cannon said. “So the fact they’re doing this is very exciting to us because it means we have commitments from experts in the industry.”

Other demonstration projects to reduce truck emissions at the ports in recent years have included:

  • A zero emission hydrogen fuel cell heavy-duty truck Toyota is testing in a summer-long demonstration project.
  • A $13.5 million test program for a trolly-like system on a mile-long test track unveiled last year that connects trucks with electric motors with an overhead system of electrified wires that guide them independently.
  • Another 40 zero-emission and near zero-emission trucks including 25 coming to LA and Long Beach at a cost of about $25 million, Cannon said.

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A $31.3 million fleet of 20 heavy-duty zero-emission electric trucks will be developed by Daimler, the world’s largest manufacturer of big rigs, and deployed at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles in a pilot project officials said is one of the largest such transportation initiatives under way at the ports complex.

The governing board of the South Coast Air Quality Management District is expected to approve the contract at its next meeting that begins at 9 a.m. Friday at the agency’s headquarters at 21865 Copley Drive, Diamond Bar.

Jul 09, 2018

Ports of Long Beach, Los Angeles could get 140 near-zero emission trucks on the road by end of the year, officials say

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Dozens more low-and zero-emission trucks could be in operation at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex by the end of this year, Long Beach officials said at a meeting Monday evening.

The Port of Long Beach, partnering with the region’s air-quality management agency, has applied for an $8 million grant from the California Energy Commission to help deploy 140 near-zero emission trucks, said Heather Tomley, the port’s director of environmental planning.

“Those are slated to come into effect starting at the end of this year,” Tomley said during the Harbor Commission meeting.

Tomley’s discussion of zero-emission trucks came during a presentation on how the port is implementing its Clean Air Action Plan – a landmark environmental initiative aimed at cleaning up the air, sea and ground in and around the port complex that was updated last year.

The updated plan requires the port to set new emission standards for trucks hauling goods to and from the ports; develop new, environmentally friendly port technology; and consider implementing port-wide guidelines on when terminals open and how they should accept appointments – via an online system, in use at nearly all terminals – so that operations become more consistent for truckers and shippers.

The updated plan requires the port to set new emissions standards for trucks hauling goods to and from the ports; develop new, environmentally friendly port technology; and research a system that would allow trucks taking goods to and from the ports to do so via an appointment system.

During the presentation, officials also laid out the next steps of the action plan, jointly approved by both the Long Beach and Los Angeles harbor commissions last year. The Long Beach and Los Angeles seaports are usually competitors, but join forces occasionally to tackle major issues such as the environment.

Among the newer plans that were approved last year, the truck appointment system could be the initiative that has the widest affect on the area outside the port, as it could potentially reduce the mad-dash by drivers, known as drayage truckers, to rush to the ports to pick up cargo — resulting in less freeway traffic and shorter lines of trucks at container terminals.

The appointment system, however, isn’t expected to come online until 2020, Tomley said.

The proposed new emission standards for big rigs require new trucks visiting marine terminals to be 2014 model year or newer by Oct. 1.

The Clean Air Action Plan, initially adopted in 2006, has dramatically reduced pollution from maritime-related sources that operate in and around the ports, officials said. Since 2005, the plan has helped reduce diesel particulate matter more than 80 percent, sulfur oxides by upwards of 90 percent, nitrogen oxides by half and greenhouse gases by an average of 12 percent, according to data from the ports.

The ports have also said that they are exceeding or nearing their targets for reducing those pollutants: By 2023, they must reduce diesel particulate matter 77 percent, sulfur oxides by 93 percent, and nitrogen oxide by 59 percent.

During the same time period that emissions were falling, container volume collectively increased by seven percent, port data shows.

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Dozens more low-and zero-emission trucks could be in operation at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex by the end of this year, Long Beach officials said at a meeting Monday evening.

The Port of Long Beach, partnering with the region’s air-quality management agency, has applied for an $8 million grant from the California Energy Commission to help deploy 140 near-zero emission trucks, said Heather Tomley, the port’s director of environmental planning.

May 18, 2018

New Teamsters Strategy

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THE TEAMSTERS UNION is backing a bill before the California Legislature that would require beneficial cargo owners (BCOs) to share liability for wages, penalties, and damages to drayage drivers in lawsuits. The California Trucking Association (CTA) opposes the legislation. “Until the major retailers like Amazon, Sony, and Home Depot are held jointly liable for the unconscionable and systematic lawbreaking by their harbor trucking contractors, we will not be able to solve the problem of  having thousands of immigrant drivers being treated as ‘indentured servants by their employers here at the Port of Los Angeles,’ ” said Randy Cammack, president of Teamsters Joint Council 42. The latest bill is a continuation of the efforts by the  Teamsters to dramatically increase the number of employee harbor truck drivers in the largest US port complex so the union can organize them. Under US law, independent contractors such as owner-operators cannot be unionized, but employee  drivers can. “In the past, the backers of this bill tried to outright ban small-business, owner-operator truckers from working at the ports. Their actions were unanimously rejected by the US Supreme Court. Now they’re back with S.B. 1402, which uses
other means to accomplish the samegoal,” said Shawn Yadon, CEO of the trucking association. The Teamsters began this push in the formative stages of the Los Angeles- Long Beach clean-truck plan of 2006. The initial attempt failed because the US  Supreme Court ruled that state and local entities cannot regulate interstate commerce. Since then, the Teamsters shifted their strategy to one of challenging the employment status of owner- operators, charging that drayage companies exert enough controlover drivers’ daily work routine to constitute an employer-employee relationship. Individual drivers in recent years have in fact been awarded millions of dollars in back wages,expenses, and damages, although no case sets an  ndustrywide precedent, so each case must be handled separately. The bill, known as S.B. 1402, would order the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to create a list of port trucking companies that have an unsatisfied final
court judgment, an assessment from the department regarding failure to pay wages, imposing unlawful business expenses on employees, or misclassification of drivers as independent contractors. “This list will be available to every shipper who  imports and exports through California’s seaports so that they are unequivocally aware of which companies are violating the law. If in turn the shipper hires a lawbreaking company, then that entity will be held liable for subsequent wage and hour  violation for drivers who haul freight for them,” the Teamsters stated. The CTA noted the nationwide truck capacity and driver shortage and charged that the “flawed process” of the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement to use the  wage claim process to reclassify drivers as employees will aggravate the shortage. “While S.B. 1402 highlights the $45 million in claims brought by the California labor commissioner against trucking companies, it fails to address the commissioner’s willful  violations of the California Public Records Act and the deprivation of due process during the hearings on those claims,” the CTA stated in a release.

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