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Jan 29, 2018

On-Dock Rail Facility Gets Green Light

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The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility, a project to expand on-dock rail capacity at the Port of Long Beach, on January 22. The board approved the final environmental impact report (EIR) for the project, selecting the largest possible footprint for the facility outlined in that document. While most public commenters at the meeting spoke in support of the project, Westside business owners emphasized how it would negatively impact their operations.

The Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility EIR process began in 2009, when a notice of preparation for the document was released to the public, according to Richard Cameron, managing director of planning and environmental affairs for the port. Since then, port staff has conducted “extensive outreach,” including meetings with property and business owners who would be affected and even displaced by the project, he said at the meeting.

The board selected what is referred to as the “12th Street Alternative” – the largest project footprint that extends as far north as 12th Street. On-dock rail at Pier B will be extended to enable longer trains to be assembled and cargo to be placed directly onto rail within terminal gates.

At the meeting, Heather Tomley, the port’s director of environmental planning, stated that each train that leaves the port via on-dock rail could eliminate the need for as many as 750 truck trips. The project is part of a larger initiative by the port to increase the amount of cargo moved by on-dock rail to 35% and is in line with the goals of the recently updated Clean Air Action Plan, Cameron noted.

Many public commenters spoke in support of the project, including several different union representatives who said that it would generate jobs for their members. Leadership and representatives from the Long Beach Area Chamber of Commerce, Long Beach City College, the City of Huntington Beach, Rep. Alan Lowenthal’s office, the Long Beach Fire Department and other entities came out to show their support.

But Westside business owners with operations adjacent to the project expressed dismay. Rail would be built directly next to some businesses, including Superior Electrical Advertising, as its owner, Stan Janocha, pointed out during the public comment period. With clients like Starbucks and Disney, having a rail facility within 125 feet of his property is not an attractive proposition, he explained.

Daryl Phillips, owner of 103-year old business Phillips Steel Co., acknowledged that he was outnumbered by supporters of the project. While he expressed gratitude to port staff for having open lines of communication and acknowledged that it was an important project for the community, he emphasized that the project would negatively impact area businesses.

Phillips noted that the project would disconnect the Westside’s access to the Shoemaker Bridge, which port staff estimated would add an additional four minutes to commute time between the area and Downtown Long Beach. That is a concern for businesses who are worried about the response time by emergency services, Phillips explained.

“In its current size, it truly affects and eliminates way too many businesses, and I would hope that you take an earnest [effort] in understanding our position,” Phillips said. “We know that you’re going to help mitigate, but that doesn’t change the effect, especially with my own employees and all of the other businesses.”

Other businesses would be forced to move or shut down. Thirty-nine parcels – which, as a port spokesperson pointed out, does not equate to as many businesses – may need to be acquired to build the project, according to the EIR. One of those properties encompasses LAN Logistics, a family-owned business at 11th Street that has been located at the site for more than 20 years.

“I am disappointed by the outcome of the vote at the meeting held Monday given that there were other viable options on the table that would have avoided the displacement of my company that’s been located close to the port for decades for a good reason,” LAN Logistics owner John Donaldson told the Business Journal days after the vote. He explained that the cargo the company handles is large and heavy, which necessitates proximity to the port.

Donaldson continued, “Though our location relative to the port is essential to the viability of our business, I am hopeful that the port will work with us to find and/or develop another viable option for relocation and assist with the heavy expenses that come along with the situation we now face to allow us to continue serving our customers, provide stable employment, and improve the local community to the best of our ability.”

During the meeting, Port Executive Director Mario Cordero emphasized that the port remains committed to working with business and property owners who are affected and whose operations may have to be relocated. “The fact is that for this port to remain competitive we need to enhance our rail capability,” Cordero said. “And as you have heard from some of the commentary, clearly enhancing this project is an opportunity to create jobs in the community and support international trade.”

In a recent interview with the Business Journal, Sean Gamette, the port’s managing director of engineering services, pointed out that the final EIR did not include finalized designs for the project, and that there may still be opportunities to mitigate impacts to businesses. He also emphasized that he and his staff are working to create buffer zones along project-adjacent properties, including Superior Electrical Advertising.

Print Edition

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners approved the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility, a project to expand on-dock rail capacity at the Port of Long Beach, on January 22. The board approved the final environmental impact report (EIR) for the project, selecting the largest possible footprint for the facility outlined in that document. While most public commenters at the meeting spoke in support of the project, Westside business owners emphasized how it would negatively impact their operations.

Feb 06, 2018

Plans for an $820 million railyard oust longtime Long Beach businesses

Online Edition

Roy Hetherington doesn’t want to stand in the way of progress. But progress is about to roll right over his business.

The Long Beach Harbor Commission recently gave the go-ahead on plans to build an $820 million railyard that proponents say will cut pollution and speed up cargo handling at the nation’s second busiest ports.

The 171-acre project just west of the 710 freeway marks a rare moment at the port: Environmentalists, shippers and port officials all agree it is a game changer that will help reduce pollution while making the port more competitive.

It will also force Hetherington and others out of shops where they have build their livelihood. And, compounding matters, officials say land available in industrial areas near the port is becoming scarce as marijuana growers snap up parcels in order to comply with laws requiring them to operate away from schools.

“I am not going to move out of here without a fight,” said Hetherington, a former merchant marine who runs a humming ship repair shop that employs about 40 workers.

He said his business depends on his location, just minutes from the dock.

“We put a lot of time and effort into building this place up,” Hetherington said. “I don’t want to see my business go.”

Harbor planners will need to oust owners of 39 properties and more tenants along a stretch of land south of 12th street in West Long Beach to build the yard. Port officials said they have already identified places to relocate businesses and will be offering them a fair price for their land.

“Our dialogue with the business community and those affected is a priority for us,” said Mario Cordero, the port’s executive director. “The goal is to make sure that whatever transitions are made, it is fair to everybody.”

Industrial land

Filled with greasy machine shops and crowded container yards, the quiet pot-marked road where the railyard will be built is bounded by 12th Street to the north, the 710 Freeway to the west and an existing yard to the south. About the only folks here are workers toiling behind concrete walls in the belly of the port’s industrial sector.

Lawrence Weber grew up along these quiet streets. The 47-year-old watched his grandfather and his father run Spun Products, a metal fabricating shop that opened in the 1970s and builds custom parts for the aerospace industry.

“I have spent my life here building this business and I got to go somewhere else?,” he said. “It’s like, why should I have to move? I own this place. I have paid for it in blood, sweat and tears.”

Port officials said details of relocation have not yet been worked out, and lawyers are reviewing the properties. But officials promise to help all they can.

“The port takes this really seriously,” said David Albers, a deputy city attorney. “These our our neighbors.”

He expects evaluations on the parcels will begin later this year, but emphasized the port is still in the early planning stages. The port will offer relocation assistance and what it deems market value for the property.

But Weber doesn’t see how officials can replicate his place.

“We would probably end up having to leave the area and most of our guys live in the area,” he said. “Some of us have been here for 20 years.”

Green zone

The vacancy rate for commercial real estate in the area is at about 1 percent, said David Bales of Lee & Associates, a commercial real estate company with offices in Gardena.

“The ones that have the biggest problem are the ones that have to be on the waterfront,” he said.

There’s not a lot of commercial property along the water. Bales said prices of property in industrial zones has skyrocketed as marijuana growers move in.

Cultivators of marijuana, which became legal for recreational use in California on Jan. 1, have zeroed in on places like West Long Beach because it’s far from schools and homes. A cluster of would-be growers have pending permit requests with the city.

Derek Caldwell, a real estate agent, said he’s sold about a dozen properties in the area to would-be marijuana growers over the last two years. And in that time, he’s seen prices more than double.

“There’s a lot of competition,” he said. “Most buyers are all cash.”

The trend scares Hetherington, who is still waiting for the city to notify him about their final plans. But he’s frustrated. He recently purchased a property next to his current business with plans to grow.

Dirty air

Rick Cameron, head of planning and environmental affairs for the port, said construction on the railyard could begin as soon as 2020, and will take place over several years.

The project comes as pressure increases to clean up air around the ports, the largest stationary source of pollution in the region. The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been looking toward so-called “on-dock rail” as one way to reduce truck trips that cause traffic along nearby freeways and increase congestion at port gates.

The theory is that picking up cargo by rail when it’s unloaded from the ship, as opposed to putting it on trucks, will lessen congestion, ease pollution and speed up efficiency in an area sometimes referred to as the “diesel death zone.”

“As cargo continues to grow, having this infrastructure in place will help us move more of that cargo by rail,” said Heather Tomley, the port’s director of environmental planning. “Without this project, this cargo would have to go by truck.”

She estimates one train trip could replace more than 700 truck trips.

Currently, about 20 percent of all the steel container boxes are placed onto trains near terminals, but the port wants to increase that to 35 percent as more and more containers are imported into the port, ferrying everything from furniture to machine parts.

Cordero said the railyard project is “crucial” to hitting lower pollution targets.

The plans will triple the capacity at the already existing railyard, from 12 tracks to 48 tracks, and will provide a key staging area for terminals that will allow shippers to assemble trains up to 10,000 feet long and send them out to points across the country. Right now, there’s no room to do that in the terminals.

But it’s gong to do so at the cost of business owners.

“There’s no two ways about it,” said John Donaldson, president of LAN Logistics, whose company is also in the path of construction. “It will bite our ability to work.”

His company moves heavy machinery for the military and others near the port.

“We have to be in this area to do what we do,” he said. “There’s a threat of not being able to do what we are doing.”

 

Online Edition

Roy Hetherington doesn’t want to stand in the way of progress. But progress is about to roll right over his business.

The Long Beach Harbor Commission recently gave the go-ahead on plans to build an $820 million railyard that proponents say will cut pollution and speed up cargo handling at the nation’s second busiest ports.

Jan 19, 2018

It’s full speed ahead at the Port of Long Beach in 2018

Online Edition

As much as any seaport, the Port of Long Beach is closely tied to its namesake city. In Long Beach, our port is the economic engine that powers the region, with our operations sustaining 30,000 jobs within the city’s borders, and more than 300,000 jobs around Southern California.

As 2018 begins, the people of Long Beach will be proud to know their port finished its busiest year in our 107-year history. Our container terminals and longshore workers topped the previous high of 7.3 million 20-foot-equivalent units in 2007, before the Great Global Recession.

It’s worth noting the remarkable turnaround we experienced in 2017 compared to the year before. In August 2016, the operator of our biggest terminal filed for bankruptcy. We faced intense international competition and questions about our decision to go forward with the most comprehensive environmental standards anywhere in the world.

However, we moved quickly. And so, within a few months, we leased our idled terminal to Mediterranean Shipping Co., the world’s second-largest ocean carrier. The shipping line recognized the great potential of the facility — one of the finest in North America — and our commitment to being leaders in productivity, reliability and efficiency.

A few weeks ago, we topped out the towers for the replacement to the Gerald Desmond Bridge. These 515-foot-tall towers are the tallest points in Long Beach. This new “bridge to everywhere,” scheduled to open as early as next year, is going to be a landmark. It will be high enough for large ships and wide enough for extra traffic lanes, with a separate bike and pedestrian path to be enjoyed by the community.

Being a good community partner is a top priority at the Port of Long Beach. Last year, the Board of Harbor Commissioners budgeted $1 million for sponsorships to support arts and other civic events, the most ever. And we awarded funds from the $46.4 million Community Grants Program, the largest voluntary effort of its kind in the nation aimed at mitigating the impacts of goods movement.

Together, with the Port of Los Angeles, our Harbor Commission also approved an updated Clean Air Action Plan that incorporated input from numerous public meetings to balance the needs of our business partners and the community, to build on the great gains we’ve made in cleaning the air in the last decade. port-related diesel particulate matter is down by 88 percent since 2005. It’s one of the many reasons we have a well-earned reputation as the world’s greenest port. We believe the technologies to reach our goal of becoming a zero-emissions seaport will come faster than anyone imagines.

This month we have released the final environmental impact report for a project that is vital to meeting both our environmental and operational goals that are key to retaining and growing trade.

The project, the Pier B On-Dock Rail Support Facility, would enable the Port to assemble longer trains by connecting smaller train segments coming from some of our busiest container terminals. Moving more cargo by rail reduces the number of trucks on the road.

We began studying this project many years ago, and we are now proposing a project that will benefit the community with reduced truck traffic and cleaner air, and help to speed cargo to its destination. Containers will be moved to and from Pier B only on trains, with no cargo truck operations at the new facility.

Right now, rail operators at the port do not have the space to link train cars easily. Many trains leaving the Port are now assembled on mainline tracks. This limitation in capacity can result in cargo being trucked to the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility in West Long Beach or East Los Angeles rail yards, creating air pollution and traffic congestion.

The Pier B project would bring significant relief, allowing workers to build mile-long trains and some even longer. Each mile-long train can take as many as 750 trucks off the roadways.

Today, the Port of Long Beach’s on-dock rail use has plateaued at 25 percent. Our goal is to move 35 percent of our containers via on-dock rail in the near term and eventually, 50 percent, to meet the goals identified in the Clean Air Action Plan. We cannot meet those goals without the facility.

We hope you’ll support it when the Harbor Commission considers the environmental study on Jan. 22.

The Port of Long Beach thanks our tenants, dockworkers, truckers, railroads and all the rest of our partners who made last year so spectacular. We wish everyone a prosperous and healthy 2018.

Online Edition

As much as any seaport, the Port of Long Beach is closely tied to its namesake city. In Long Beach, our port is the economic engine that powers the region, with our operations sustaining 30,000 jobs within the city’s borders, and more than 300,000 jobs around Southern California.

Jan 25, 2018

5 of the most congested truck bottlenecks are on Southern California freeways

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Big rigs are common on Southland freeways, thanks in part to the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, and a report released Thursday found that Los Angeles County is home to two of the country’s top 15 truck bottlenecks.

According to the study by the American Transportation Research Institute, seven of the nation’s 65 worst truck bottlenecks are in California.

The 60 Freeway interchange with the 57 Freeway in Diamond Bar ranked fifth on the list. The 710 Freeway at the 105 Freeway in the Paramount/Lynwood area came in at number 13.

“California not only is our nation’s most populous state, but with our farms, key ports and border crossings it is our gateway to the world’s markets, making it a key state for the trucking industry,” California Trucking Association CEO Shawn Yadon said in a statement. “Congestion costs trucking billions of dollars and harms our economy. ATRI’s report makes clear where the biggest issues lie and we urge policymakers to quickly address them with much needed investment.”

Atlanta’s “Spaghetti Junction” — the interchange of interstates 285 and 85 North — ranked as the most congested freight bottleneck in the country.

The 15 Freeway at state Route 91 in Corona ranked 45th on the list, while the 110 Freeway at the 105 Freeway came in at number 64. The 10 Freeway interchange with the 15 in San Bernardino came in 27th. Two interchanges in Oakland also placed in the top 65.

The rankings are based on GPS data from more than 800,000 heavy-duty trucks and include an assessment of truck congestion at 300 locations across the country.

Online Edition

Big rigs are common on Southland freeways, thanks in part to the Los Angeles/Long Beach port complex, and a report released Thursday found that Los Angeles County is home to two of the country’s top 15 truck bottlenecks.

According to the study by the American Transportation Research Institute, seven of the nation’s 65 worst truck bottlenecks are in California.

Dec 11, 2017

ILWU's next organizing move?

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After scoring a second contract for newly organized superintendents, a marine clerks division of the international Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) told its rank-and-file that another terminal was in its sights. The ILWU marine clerks division in Southern California negotiated its second contract for newly organized superintendents, and in a message to employers, the ILWU boasted in its Nov. 17 newsletter that it has another terminal in its sights. The ILWU marine clerks division in Southern California negotiated its second contract for newly organized superintendents, and in a message to employers, the ILWU boasted in its Nov. 17 newsletter that it has another terminal in its sights. ILWU Local 63 in late September signed a super intendent contract with Eagle Marine Services (APL) for its terminal in Los Angeles. The union announced that it signed a second contract, this one with Pasha Stevedoring and Terminals. "The superintendents at Eagle Marine and Pasha, with support from the international and Local 63 have bargained their first contracts. The West Coast Terminal & Stevedore (WCTS) superintendents were close behind," the union stated in its newsletter. WCTS operates the International Transportation Services ("K" Line) terminals in Los Angeles-Long Beach consider the PAL contract to be a major development that could lead to the loss of management supervisory control of container terminals on the West Coast. In effect, ILWU superintendents will be supevising ILWU marine clerks or longshoremen. The new Pasha contract involves a primarily breakbulk faciity, so the terms of the contract are different than those in the APL agreement and are therefore not expected to establish a precedent for container terminals .

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Jan 12, 2018

Multi-million plan to reduce pollution begins with conversion of cranes at Port of Long Beach

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One of the largest sources of dirty air along a Long Beach port terminal will be eliminated as part of a $41 million plan to jump start wider use of electric vehicles and clean up transportation pollution, officials announced this week.

The California Public Utility Commission approved a project that will allow Southern California Edison to help convert nine diesel-powered cranes into clean-burning electric cranes at the Port of Long Beach, one of the region’s largest standing sources of pollution.

The project is part of a larger plan that gives state’s three major publicly-owned electric utility companies the go-ahead on more than a dozen pilot projects aimed at kick starting the electrification of vehicles. The projects include installing ultra fast electric-vehicle charging stations in urban areas and building out stations for buses.

“It’s a big deal,” said Adrian Martinez, a lawyer at Earthjustice, a pro-environmental group. “These projects will save lives. They will eliminate tail pipe emissions for lots of equipment, including that in Long Beach.”

Southern California Edison estimates it will cost customers about 3 cents a month to cover the costs of four projects.

The efforts are part of a state law directing publicly-owned utilities to invest in widespread transportation electrification with the goal of bringing California closer to its 2030 goal to reduce greenhouse gasses to 40 percent below 1990 levels.

Later this year, the commission is expected to consider an even bigger, $1 billion effort to expand electrification.

“Electrifying transportation represents the largest near-term opportunity to reduce greenhouse gas emissions and drive down pollution that impacts public health,” Ron Nichols, SCE president, said in a statement.

The soon-to-be converted cranes in Long Beach hover above the SSA Terminal, where they account for the second largest source of smog-forming nitrous oxide, or about 6 percent of the pollutant created every year at the port.

Eliminating it will diminish a fraction of the overall toxin produced at the port. The largest source is created by diesel-powered ships.

Last year, the mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach vowed to bring the nation’s largest port complex to near zero-emissions by 2030 in line with state goals.

The area surrounding the ports have higher than average rates of asthma, and residents suffer other respiratory problems linked to port pollution.

Amid pressure from community and environmental groups, both ports have been investing in green technology. The Long Beach port is already home to a $1.5 billion all-electric terminal that’s seen as a model for green shipping.

Online Edition

One of the largest sources of dirty air along a Long Beach port terminal will be eliminated as part of a $41 million plan to jump start wider use of electric vehicles and clean up transportation pollution, officials announced this week.

The California Public Utility Commission approved a project that will allow Southern California Edison to help convert nine diesel-powered cranes into clean-burning electric cranes at the Port of Long Beach, one of the region’s largest standing sources of pollution.

Jan 09, 2018

Trucking companies accused of abuse

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The city of Los Angeles filed three lawsuits against some of the busiest port trucking companies in the country Monday, demanding they stop systematically exploting their workers in the wake of reports by the USA TODAY NETWORK.

"This abuse, this disgraceful exploitation has to stop," City Attorney Mike Feuer said at a news conference Monday, citing the network's "scathing" coverage of the industry.

Feuer alleged CMI Transportation K&R Transportation and California Cartage Transportation Express represent industry leaders that knowingly violate state labor laws with "devastating practices" meant to increase executives' bottom lines while driving their workers into debt.

"we're trying to create systemic change, and we'll continue to investifate other companies as well," Feuer said.

The three companies are part of the California Cartage family of outfits recently bought by New Jersey-based NFI Industries. Those companies helped spearhead the lease-to-own contracts that havce became pervasive.

"Denying workers fair wages and benefits to pad profit margins is unacceptable," Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said in a statement. "We will not stand for it in Los Angeles."

The lawsuit seeks penalties, restitution and a prohibition against practices that lead to worker exploitation, according to the complaints.

Representatives at NFI and California Cartage did not immediately respond to requests for comment Monday about the suits filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court.

"I would question the standing or merit of this lawsuit, but that is for the courts to decide," said Weston LaBar, chief executive officer of the Harbor Trucking Association, who called the state's history of judgments in favor of port truckers "completely one-sided."

The USA TODAY NETWORK reported that more than 1,100 California port truck drivers filed labor complaints in civil court and with the state labor commissioner since 2008. That year, a new California environmental law requred trucking companies serving state ports to replace old trrucks with new, cleaner rigs.

To avoid the cost, many firms pushed their independent drivers into lease-to-own contracts that they could not afford.

When drivers got sick or fell behind on payments, trucking companies fired them, seizing their trucks and tens of thousands of dollars they had paid toward buying them.

Monday's legal action is the latest in a wave of changes affecting the port trucking industry after USA TODAY NETWORKS coverage.

Since the Network began reporting last spring, drivers have filed 23 california Labor Commissioner cases and six civil lawsuits, including three class actions, agianst port trucking companies. Companies exposed in the Network's reporting have lost business. At least one executive resigned. State and federal agencies have luanched investigations into potential worker exploitation and lawmakers have introduced national and state bills aimed at curbing labor abuse.

"The revelations about the abuse of workers in the port trucking industry should outrage every american," Sen. Bernie Sanders, I-Vt., wrote to President Turmp in November.

Print Edition

The city of Los Angeles filed three lawsuits against some of the busiest port trucking companies in the country Monday, demanding they stop systematically exploting their workers in the wake of reports by the USA TODAY NETWORK.

"This abuse, this disgraceful exploitation has to stop," City Attorney Mike Feuer said at a news conference Monday, citing the network's "scathing" coverage of the industry.

Jan 08, 2018

L.A. city attorney files suit over treatment of truck drivers who serve ports

Online Edition

Alleging that hundreds of port truck drivers are being denied wages and benefits, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced on Monday lawsuits against three trucking companies that he said relegated many of the drivers to poverty despite long hours of work.

“This abuse, this disgraceful exploitation, has to stop,” he said at a press event Monday in downtown Los Angeles.

The move comes amid increased pressure from politicians and union officials to address the plight of truck drivers who haul billions of dollars worth of retail goods from the nation’s largest port complex.

“We allege these (port trucking companies) are taking advantage of these hard-working drivers who struggle every day just to make ends meet,” Feuer said. “We allege these practices these employers are engaged in only to increase their bottom line.”

The three companies, CMI Transportation, K&R Transportation California and Cal Cartage Transportation Express, are held by California Cartage. Company representatives declined to comment.

The company, which operates in the Los Angeles and Long Beach area, was recently sold to New Jersey-based carrier National Freight Industries.

The companies controlled drivers’ schedules and tied them to an expensive truck lease, the lawsuits state. Despite having the trappings of employment, the companies used them as contractors.

Feuer said his office is also investigating other trucking companies that control workers’ schedules.

The accusations are nothing new.

The Teamsters, which is organizing truck drivers at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, has staged more than a dozen strikes over the past four years protesting worker wages. At the same time, hundreds of drivers have filed claims with the California Labor Commission for back wages. The union says more than $35 million in back wages and penalties have been paid out.

Weston La Bar, chief executive officer of the Harbor Trucking Association, a trade group for trucking companies, said he doubted Monday’s filing had merits. He said the lawsuit appeared to be another effort by officials to knock down independent contractor models favored by many trucking companies.

Last year, the Los Angeles City Council asked Feuer to investigate ways the city could ban trucking and warehouse companies that break local, state and federal law after a USA Today investigation detailed how the practice was forcing some workers into debt.

Feuer said the lawsuit is not part of that effort; the investigation had been in the works separately.

Councilman Joe Buscaino, who represents San Pedro, praised Monday’s move to put an “end to the modern day sharecropping that is taking place on public property,”

Port officials had sought to block companies that use the contracting model by creating a mandate under a 2008 Clean Truck Program that drivers be employees. The effort, however, was struck down in court.

“Denying workers fair wages and benefits to pad profit margins is unacceptable, and we will not stand for it in Los Angeles,” Mayor Eric Garcetti said Monday. “I fully support the City Attorney’s action against these unfair practices.”

Online Edition

Alleging that hundreds of port truck drivers are being denied wages and benefits, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced on Monday lawsuits against three trucking companies that he said relegated many of the drivers to poverty despite long hours of work.

“This abuse, this disgraceful exploitation, has to stop,” he said at a press event Monday in downtown Los Angeles.

Jan 11, 2018

Company at Port of Long Beach ordered to pay $2.5 million for pollution near neighborhoods

Online Edition

The California Air Resources Board announced this week it reached a $2.5 million settlement with SSA Containers Inc. and its affiliates, which the state agency said failed to repower, retire or retrofit its equipment at the ports of Long Beach and Oakland.

The company also failed to certify large spark ignition engines on yard trucks servicing those terminals, as required by state law, according to CARB.

“This settlement is part of a dynamic, focused effort to protect the health of people who live and work near ports from the harmful effects of diesel exhaust,” CARB Executive Officer Richard Corey said. “We are glad that these worthy projects will benefit from the settlement monies but are working diligently toward the day when California’s air is so clean that they will no longer be necessary.”

SSA did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

According to CARB, SSA and its affiliates will pay $1.25 million to the Air Pollution Control Fund for pollution research, $728,060 to the South Coast Air Quality Management District to fund air filtration systems in schools located near ports, and $521,940 to the Prescott-Joseph Center for Community Enhancement to fund the Northern California Breathmobile, which travels to disadvantaged communities in the Bay Area to meet health care needs of children with asthma.

CARB officials said SSA Containers and its affiliates fully cooperated during the investigation, and as part of the settlement, replaced all uncertified engines operating at its facilities to reach compliance with the state agency’s Cargo Handling Equipment and Large Spark Ignition Engine Regulations.

Online Edition

The California Air Resources Board announced this week it reached a $2.5 million settlement with SSA Containers Inc. and its affiliates, which the state agency said failed to repower, retire or retrofit its equipment at the ports of Long Beach and Oakland.

The company also failed to certify large spark ignition engines on yard trucks servicing those terminals, as required by state law, according to CARB.

Dec 29, 2017

Truck drivers wanted, but industry facing changes

Print Edition

Tow­ing a tanker full of milk from Florida, pro­fes­sional driver Joe Wood­son pulls off for eggs and cof­fee at a mas­sive Pi­lot Fly­ing J truck stop in West Mem­phis.

Among the heavy trucks re­fu­el­ing at the diesel pumps are some that show the new sign of the times: Ads re­cruit­ing truck driv­ers.

Wood­son sees these ads reg­u­larly on pass­ing trucks dur­ing his milk run to Lit­tle Rock. Posted on semi-trail­ers, the ads boast ex­pe­ri­enced heavy-truck driv­ers can land big bonuses, up to

$8,000. And it’s not the only in­duce­ment to change jobs:

Covenant Trans­port of Chat­tanooga of­fers driv­ers a run home ev­ery other week and guar­an­tees $100-per-day late pay.

To­tal Trans­porta­tion of Richland, Miss., touts it will pay weigh-in fees and pro­vide a $2,500 sign­ing bonus.

Crete Car­rier of Lin­coln., Neb., boasts 7% more mileage than the in­dus­try norm. Shaf­fer, an arm of Crete, ad­ver­tises per­mis­si­ble 65-mph cruise speeds.

Crete Car­rier of Lin­coln., Neb., boasts 7% more mileage than the in­dus­try norm. Shaf­fer, an arm of Crete, ad­ver­tises per­mis­si­ble 65-mph cruise speeds.

For­ward Air of Greenville, Tenn., notes a two-driver team can travel

5,800 miles ev­ery week and gross up to

$392,000 per year be­fore ex­penses. Wat­son & Shep­ard Truck­ing of He­lena, Mont., claims “world class” freight dis­patch­ers and of­fers a $100 bonus for each ex­tra week on the road.

Sum­mit Truck­ing of Clarksville, Ind., pledges driv­ers can get home ev­ery other day.

Al­most 400,000 peo­ple na­tion­wide ob­tain com­mer­cial driver li­censes ev­ery year. But the no­madic life and low pay fuel con­stant turnover. Truck­ing ex­ec­u­tives warn the coun­try is des­per­ately short of driv­ers to run the na­tion’s fleet of 4 mil­lion heavy freight trucks, known as Class 8 ve­hi­cles.

While the Amer­i­can Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, a trade group near Wash­ing­ton, says truck lines im­me­di­ately need 50,000 more driv­ers, an owner-op­er­a­tor group con­tends plenty of driv­ers are avail­able. In short sup­ply is freight.

While the Amer­i­can Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, a trade group near Wash­ing­ton, says truck lines im­me­di­ately need 50,000 more driv­ers, an owner-op­er­a­tor group con­tends plenty of driv­ers are avail­able. In short sup­ply is freight.

Too many trucks and truck lines have caused the big truck com­pa­nies to ac­tively turn over the staff of driv­ers in a bid to raise profit by re­cruit­ing novice driv­ers at lower com­pen­sa­tion, said Todd Spencer, ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent of the Owner-Op­er­a­tor In­de­pen­dent Driv­ers As­so­ci­a­tion, an or­ga­ni­za­tion in Grain Val­ley, Mo., rep­re­sent­ing about 160,000 owner-op­er­a­tors.

“Peo­ple talk about the driver short­age. What they’re re­ally talk­ing about is turnover,” Spencer said. “It’s a re­ally tough job. You work hard and you work a lot. There’s lots and lots of per­sonal sac­ri­fice. Peo­ple get tired of the stress and leave.”

Is bet­ter pay the an­swer?

Is bet­ter pay the an­swer?

Bob Costello, chief econ­o­mist of the Amer­i­can Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, said truck lines need to raise pay for driv­ers, though the short­age is real. Many driv­ers are in their 50s and 60s. As they re­tire, the short­age could ex­ceed 174,000 driv­ers in seven years if the re­cruit­ing ef­forts fall short, ATA pre­dicts.

Bob Costello, chief econ­o­mist of the Amer­i­can Truck­ing As­so­ci­a­tion, said truck lines need to raise pay for driv­ers, though the short­age is real. Many driv­ers are in their 50s and 60s. As they re­tire, the short­age could ex­ceed 174,000 driv­ers in seven years if the re­cruit­ing ef­forts fall short, ATA pre­dicts.

“Un­less steps are taken to make it eas­ier for in­di­vid­u­als to pur­sue ca­reers in truck­ing, de­mand for driv­ers will con­tinue to out­strip sup­ply — even­tu­ally even lead­ing to sup­ply chain dis­rup- tions,” Costello warned.

“Un­less steps are taken to make it eas­ier for in­di­vid­u­als to pur­sue ca­reers in truck­ing, de­mand for driv­ers will con­tinue to out­strip sup­ply — even­tu­ally even lead­ing to sup­ply chain dis­rup- tions,” Costello warned.

An­nual com­pen­sa­tion among the coun­try’s 3.5 mil­lion Class 8 driv­ers av­er­ages about $50,000 to $60,000 — the same level as in the early 1980s.

‘Ain’t no short­age’

“There ain’t no short­age of driv­ers,” said Amy Key, 44, who trav­els with hus­band Randy of Key & Key Truck­ing of Malvern, Ark. “Ev­ery­one wants to be a truck driver. They think there’s so much money in it.”

“There ain’t no short­age of driv­ers,” said Amy Key, 44, who trav­els with hus­band Randy of Key & Key Truck­ing of Malvern, Ark. “Ev­ery­one wants to be a truck driver. They think there’s so much money in it.”

Yet hun­dreds of truck lines have ramped up re­cruit­ing staffs and promised touches es­pe­cially ap­peal­ing to pro­fes­sional driv­ers.

“A lot of peo­ple don’t know that if a com­pany has to bribe you to work for them, some­thing’s wrong,” said An­nette Sam­mis, 55, of Oak Ridge, Tenn., a driver for Fraley and Schilling truck line of Rushville, Ind.

Sam­mis, a pro­fes­sional driver since 2008, said the driver turnover traces to low pay, a no­madic life­style and pri­vacy con­cerns in­clud­ing cam­eras in the cab mon­i­tor­ing ev­ery move and the manda­tory use, be­gin­ning Dec. 18, of elec­tronic log de­vices known as ELDs.

By mon­i­tor­ing the ve­hi­cle’s op­er­at­ing time, many driv­ers fear, ELD will force them to curb their ac­tual driv­ing time to the le­gal limit of 11 hours per day. Truck ex­ec­u­tives ex­pect more than 10% of owner-op­er­a­tors will leave the busi­ness once ELDs be­gin to re­strict in­come.

Watch­ing the in­dus­try’s tur­moil from the cab of his milk tanker is Wood­son.

Af­ter the 2008 re­ces­sion wiped out bridge con­struc­tion work, Wood­son, 51, a long­time New Yorker, found his way to Wil­liams Dairy Truck­ing of Bax­ley, Ga. Lately he’s no­ticed the ads for driv­ers.

He’s not ready to jump to a new em­ployer. “Most truck driv­ers want to be close to home. Most have fam­i­lies,” Wood­son said. “They can be out on the road a month at a time. I don’t want to live like that.’’

“It’s a re­ally tough job. ... There’s lots and lots of per­sonal sac­ri­fice. Peo­ple get tired of the stress.” Todd Spencer Ex­ec­u­tive vice pres­i­dent, Owner-Op­er­a­tor In­de­pen­dent Driv­ers As­so­ci­a­tion

Print Edition

Tow­ing a tanker full of milk from Florida, pro­fes­sional driver Joe Wood­son pulls off for eggs and cof­fee at a mas­sive Pi­lot Fly­ing J truck stop in West Mem­phis.

Among the heavy trucks re­fu­el­ing at the diesel pumps are some that show the new sign of the times: Ads re­cruit­ing truck driv­ers.

Wood­son sees these ads reg­u­larly on pass­ing trucks dur­ing his milk run to Lit­tle Rock. Posted on semi-trail­ers, the ads boast ex­pe­ri­enced heavy-truck driv­ers can land big bonuses, up to