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Sep 24, 2018

This is why retailers could be on the hook if the trucking companies they hire break labor laws

Online Edition

Retailers who hire port trucking companies that break state labor rules will soon face joint liability under a new law recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Under Senate Bill 1402, passed by the state Legislature late last month, retailers that hire trucking companies with unpaid legal judgments against them will become jointly liable should those companies commit new violations of state labor and employment laws. Such violations include failing to pay wages, imposing unlawful expenses on employees, not providing worker’s compensation insurance and incorrectly classifying employees as independent contractors.

The law, signed Saturday, Sept. 22, is intended to protect the state’s approximately 25,000 port truck drivers from wage theft and illegal pay deductions, according to its author, state Sen. Ricardo Lara, D-Bell Gardens.

“Port trucking touches the lives of every Southern Californian, whether they know it or not,” Lara said on Monday, Sept. 24. “With 40 percent of America’s cargo traffic coming through the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, you are probably wearing something that a port truck driver delivered to a warehouse or retail store.”

Lara’s district includes the Port of Long Beach and the southeastern portion of Los Angeles County.

“Nearly one in 10 jobs in Southern California is directly connected to the ports, and creating good jobs for port truckers raises the bar for our whole region,” Lara added.

SB 1402 also mandates that retailers have access to a list of trucking companies that failed to pay final judgments, with the list prepared and maintained by the state Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.

None of the state’s major seaports took a position on the bill when it was introduced to the Legislature earlier this year. But the mayors representing California’s three largest ports — Long Beach’s Robert Garcia, Los Angeles’ Eric Garcetti and Oakland’s Libby Schaaf — all publicly supported it.

Online Edition

Retailers who hire port trucking companies that break state labor rules will soon face joint liability under a new law recently signed by Gov. Jerry Brown.

Sep 28, 2018

Harbor commission approves $870 million budget for rail yard project at Port of Long Beach

Online Edition

A plan that could potentially eliminate tons of harmful air emissions at the Port of Long Beach each year by shifting more shipping containers from trucks to trains will move forward, after the harbor commission’s recent approval of the project’s $870 million budget.

The project, approved earlier this month, includes reconfiguring, expanding and enhancing the capacity of the existing Pier B on-dock rail facility, increasing the port’s ability to build longer trains. Those trains could then move more cargo more quickly — reducing the number of diesel-spewing trucks on the road. Each on-dock rail train saves about 750 truck trips between the port and off-dock rail yards, according to port data.

The first train tracks are expected to be completed in 2024, according to the port; more would come online in 2030 and the project would be finished by 2032.

  • A train at the Pier B railyard at the Port of Long Beach. In September 2018, the port approved a plan to reconfigure the location to add more on-dock rail capacity. (Courtesy of the Port of Long Beach)
  • The Port of Long Beach’s Pier B is scheduled to undergo an $870 million renovation beginning in 2014, with completion expected in 2032. (Courtesy of the Port of Long Beach)
  • A train at the Pier B railyard at the Port of Long Beach. In September 2018, the port approved a plan to reconfigure the location to add more on-dock rail capacity. (Courtesy of the Port of Long Beach)

The port’s eventual goal is to ship 35 percent of its containers by on-dock rail, an increase from the current 25-to-26 percent, but there is no specific target date to reach that percentage, Peterson said.

The port has said that it expects demand for on-dock rail in the harbor to double by 2035.

Online Edition

A plan that could potentially eliminate tons of harmful air emissions at the Port of Long Beach each year by shifting more shipping containers from trucks to trains will move forward, after the harbor commission’s recent approval of the project’s $870 million budget.

Sep 26, 2018

Southern California ports will suffer if trade war with China continues

Online Edition

Southern California’s ports are beginning to feel the sting of the trade war between the U.S. and China, and things could worsen if the dispute continues, according to the latest UCLA Anderson Forecast.

The tit-for-tat exchange intensified Monday when the U.S. and China imposed new tariffs on each other’s products.

U.S. regulators imposed a 10 percent tax on a $200 billion list of 5,745 Chinese imports, including bicycles and furniture. China’s customs agency responded by beginning to collect taxes of 5 or 10 percent on a $60 billion list of 5,207 American goods ranging from honey to industrial chemicals.

Feeling the impact

The Port of Los Angeles said the tariffs will impact about $43 billion worth of trade value — about 20 percent of the total freight value that passes through the port each year.

In a statement, port officials said “negotiated settlement, instead of tariffs, represents the best pathway to resolving outstanding trade issues without creating uncertainty and instability that will negatively impact our port.”

Inland Empire economist John Husing said year-over-year import volume for the combined ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach fell 14.6 percent in March, 1.3 percent in July and 3.1 percent in August.

“This is showing the effects of the tariffs,” Husing said. “Logistics is one of our biggest economic drivers and it’s an industry where marginally educated people can get into jobs that lead to middle-income pay. The tariffs will end up being paid for by the lower middle class and by poor people. Walmart has already said its prices will be going up.”

The Anderson Forecast’s new third-quarter report predicts that California’s economy will slow in 2020, consistent with a slowing of the national economy.

The job front

The report shows California’s non-farm payroll employment hit 17.2 million in July. That was 10.6 percent higher than the state’s pre-recession peak and 21 percent higher than during the depths of the recession.

Momentum has slowed, however. Total employment growth — which includes farm workers, non-farm workers and non-payroll sole proprietors — posted annual growth of 0.7 percent in July, down from the 2 percent year-over-year growth seen a year earlier.

The report links that partly to a nearly 4 percent reduction in farm employment since China responded to U.S. tariffs with duties on agricultural exports from the U.S.

Healthcare, leisure and hospitality lead the way

California’s biggest year-over-year job gains for July came in healthcare and leisure and hospitality, a trend that reflects an ongoing demand among aging and retiring baby boomers. Both sectors added nearly 60,000 jobs.

Education followed with 40,000 jobs added and construction was close behind with about 38,000 jobs. The biggest loss of about 9,000 jobs came in the manufacturing of non-durable goods.

The report predicts total employment growth of 1.2 percent for 2018, 1.5 percent for 2019, and 0.5 percent for 2020. California’s unemployment rate has held steady at 4.2 percent for five months and that’s expected to hit 4.4 percent by 2020. Homebuilding is expected to increase to 140,000 units a year by 2020, up from the current rate of about 110,000 units a year.

A leader in technology

California remains the center of high tech and innovation worldwide, according to the forecast. As of July 2018, Los Angeles had the largest tech workforce with 446,000 jobs, followed by Silicon Valley’s 346,000 and San Francisco’s 268,000.

The study notes that while the S&P 500 stock index increased by 154 percent over the past eight years, the Nasdaq index — half of which is comprised of tech firms — increased by 275 percent. The Golden State is home to some of the biggest players in the industry, including Apple, Google and Facebook.

Wages in the tech sector are good. In 2017, the nation’s median annual wage for computer jobs was $84,560, while the median wage for all occupations was less than $37,700. The report shows tech wages rose dramatically between 2010 and 2017.

In 2010, for example, the median annual pay for a tech job in Orange County was $90,000; in 2017 it was more than $100,000. Los Angeles County jumped to $105,000 from $91,000 a year.

Funding for startups

The report also looks at the number of tech startups financed between January and September from 2011 to 2017.

San Francisco led the way with 909 funding deals valued at $22.2 billion. That was followed by the Silicon Valley (643 valued at $18.3 billion), Los Angeles (307 valued at $9.13 billion) and Orange County (112 valued at $2.13 billion).

Online Edition

Southern California’s ports are beginning to feel the sting of the trade war between the U.S. and China, and things could worsen if the dispute continues, according to the latest UCLA Anderson Forecast.

The tit-for-tat exchange intensified Monday when the U.S. and China imposed new tariffs on each other’s products.

Sep 27, 2018

This is why the Teamsters say L.A., Long Beach port truck drivers will go on strike Monday, Oct. 1

Online Edition

A group of port truck drivers who haul goods to and from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles plan to launch a three-day labor strike on Monday, Oct. 1, a representative for the Teamsters said Wednesday, Sept. 26.

“We’re here to put you on notice that we’re fed up and we’re going on strike,” Preston Richie, a business representative for Teamsters Local 848 told the Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission during its meeting this week. “We’re preparing picket signs as we speak.”

The strike, Richie told the five-member commission, is meant to protest the “fraudulent” misclassification of workers as independent contractors, instead of as employees, by the trucking companies they work for.

Truckers classified as contractors are not eligible for a minimum wage, or fringe benefits such as health insurance or holiday pay.

Picketing is expected to take place at company facilities, marine terminals, rail yards, warehouses and distribution centers used by the companies XPO Logistics and NFI Industries. Richie and other union officials did not return phone calls and emails requesting comment.

Strikers usually umber around 100, a fraction of the thousands of drivers registered to haul goods.

The Long Beach Police Department said the strike would take place within the jurisdiction of the Los Angeles Police Department’s Harbor Division. The Port of Los Angeles did not respond to request for comment.

Port of Long Beach spokesman Lee Peterson, though, said the port was aware of the upcoming strike — but expects disruptions to be minimal.

“Other than LB police officers and POLB Harbor Patrol officers assigned to ensure safety at any picketing areas in the port,” Peterson said, “no special measures are anticipated.”

Drivers have increasingly turned to short-term strikes as a negotiating tactic. There have been an estimated 15 pickets at the LA-Long Beach port complex over the past five years, according to Teamsters Local 848 Representative Reyes Magaña.

“These strikes have caused congestion, delays and negative publicity,” Magaña said. “Until the abuse of drivers ends, the Port of Long Beach will continue to face labor unrest.”

Since 2011, the Division of Labor Standards Enforcement within the state Labor Commissioner’s Office has received more than 900 complaints from port drivers over misclassification. To date, the labor division has issued more than 400 decisions, awarding $46 million of back pay and penalties to drivers, according to state records.

An estimated 17,000 trucks are registered to work at the adjoining ports, according to Port of Long Beach data, with about 75 percent of those rig active on a monthly basis. In 2017, about 300,000 truck moves a month were completed at the port.

Online Edition

A group of port truck drivers who haul goods to and from the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles plan to launch a three-day labor strike on Monday, Oct. 1, a representative for the Teamsters said Wednesday, Sept. 26.

“We’re here to put you on notice that we’re fed up and we’re going on strike,” Preston Richie, a business representative for Teamsters Local 848 told the Port of Long Beach Harbor Commission during its meeting this week. “We’re preparing picket signs as we speak.”

Sep 19, 2018

This is why the Port of Los Angeles is getting $41 million to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions with hydrogen fuel-cell trucks

Online Edition

The Port of Los Angeles was awarded $41 million from the California Air Resources Board for a project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the use of hydrogen fuel-cell trucks.

The Zero-Emission and Near Zero-Emission Freight Facilities project has an initial phase cost of more than $85 million, with its partners providing 50.2 percent in matching funds, according to the announcement last week.

The project, which was proposed with support from Toyota, Kenworth, and Shell, provides a large-scale “shore to store” plan and a hydrogen fuel-cell-electric technology framework for freight facilities working at the port.

Officials said the initiative will help reduce emissions by 465 metric tons of greenhouse gas and 0.72 weighted tons of nitrogen oxide, reactive organic gases and PM10, which stands for particulate matter 10 micrometers in diameter or less. The project is also part of California Climate Investments, a statewide initiative that puts billions of cap-and-trade dollars toward reducing greenhouse gas emissions and other environmental initiatives.

“The Port of Los Angeles is showing the world that we don’t need to choose between environmental stewardship and economic growth — and this funding will help put zero emissions goods movement within our reach,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said. “I am grateful to CARB for this investment in America’s port, as we continue to lead the drive toward a more sustainable future.”

The Port of Los Angeles will develop the project in several phases and will eventually encompass other initiatives in Southern California, the Central Coast area, and Merced County. The project includes the use of hydrogen fuel-cell-electric trucks and the installation of hydrogen fueling stations around the region.

“This matching grant from CARB’s California Climate Investments program is critically needed funding support to develop and commercialize the next generation of clean port equipment and drayage trucks, as well as the infrastructure to support it,” Port Executive Director Gene Seroka said. “This grant funds a public-private collaboration that is representative of our commitment to being a ‘market maker’ through collaborative technology and fuel infrastructure development with industry leaders like Toyota, Kenworth and Shell.”

Online Edition

The Port of Los Angeles was awarded $41 million from the California Air Resources Board for a project to reduce greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the use of hydrogen fuel-cell trucks.

The Zero-Emission and Near Zero-Emission Freight Facilities project has an initial phase cost of more than $85 million, with its partners providing 50.2 percent in matching funds, according to the announcement last week.

Sep 19, 2018

Long Beach company ordered to pay workers $3.5 million in back wages

Online Edition

A Long Beach company that has a federal contract to perform work at the Los Angeles–Long Beach port complex will fork over $3 million in back wages to more than 1,000 workers after the company was found to have violated federal law by not paying employees prevailing wages, or giving them holiday pay and vacation time.

California Cartage Co. has been ordered to pay $3.57 million to more than 1,400 workers – an average of $2,523 each – after a U.S. Department of Labor investigation revealed it had failed to pay its workers a fair wage, the department confirmed Sept. 19.

The company has a federal contract to move cargo containers to a centralized examination facility at the Long Beach-Los Angeles port complex when those containers are selected for inspection by Customs & Border Protection. Under federal law, private companies receiving federal money must pay workers the prevailing wage of the area in which they are employed, and offer similar benefits.

“No contractor receiving federal funds to provide services to the government should gain an economic advantage by paying workers below the wages and fringe benefits required by applicable law,” said Kimchi Bui, district director for the Labor Department’s Wage and Hour Division. “Workers must be paid what they are legally owed for their work.”

Bui’s division launched an investigation after employees complained. Investigators ultimately found that from late November 2014 to around the same time in 2016 the Long Beach company underpaid its employees and didn’t offer appropriate benefits, a Labor Department spokesman said. California Cartage also underpaid five subcontractors, which forced those companies to in turn underpay their employees.

California Cartage, headquartered near the Long Beach Airport, was locally owned until October 2017, when it was bought by a New Jersey company called National Freight Industries, one of the largest goods movement companies in the U.S.

In a statement, National Freight said that all employees at the customs exam operation are now paid the required prevailing wage in compliance with applicable laws. The statement also said the rates are “continually monitored” to ensure compliance.

Online Edition

A Long Beach company that has a federal contract to perform work at the Los Angeles–Long Beach port complex will fork over $3 million in back wages to more than 1,000 workers after the company was found to have violated federal law by not paying employees prevailing wages, or giving them holiday pay and vacation time.

Sep 18, 2018

Logistics firm to pay $3.5 million in back wages

Online Edition

The U.S. Labor Department said logistics firm California Cartage Co. will pay $3.5 million to nearly 1,500 warehouse workers, after investigators found the Long Beach company failed to pay wages and benefits required under federal law.

The penalty, announced last week, covers employees who from November 2014 to November 2016 worked at a customs station near the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the Labor Department said. California Cartage received federal dollars to move goods at the Carson location so U.S. Customs and Border Protection could inspect the shipments, an arrangement that subjected the company to federal pay and benefit requirements.

In a news release, the Labor Department also said the company failed to ensure that its subcontractors followed those requirements.

“No contractor receiving federal funds to provide services to the government should gain an economic advantage by paying workers below the wages and fringe benefits required by applicable law,” Kimchi Bui, the department’s district director for the wage and hour division, said in a statement.

A department spokesman said California Cartage reached an “internal settlement agreement” with the agency over the investigation and declined to release it without a Freedom of Information Act request.

California Cartage, which neither admitted nor denied wrongdoing as part of the agreement, referred questions to NFI Industries, a New Jersey company that acquired California Cartage and its affiliated companies in 2017.

In a statement, NFI Industries noted the alleged violations occurred before it acquired California Cartage and its affiliates. NFI said all employees at the customs station are “now paid the required prevailing wage and welfare rates in compliance with applicable laws.”

“NFI and its Cal Cartage family of companies remain committed to creating a best-in-class working environment for all of their employees throughout the United States and Canada,” the statement said.

Wage theft is a pressing issue nationwide, particularly in the logistics industry, where many truckers argue they are misclassified as independent contractors. Since 2011, the California labor commissioner’s office has awarded port truck drivers more than $46 million in such cases.

The Labor Department said its allegations covered warehouse workers, not truck drivers. California Cartage provides both services and has been scrutinized for its labor practices before.

In January, Los Angeles City Atty. Mike Feuer sued three of its affiliate trucking companies, alleging the firms exploited their drivers by misclassifying them, an arrangement that sometimes resulted in take-home pay of only pennies.

Online Edition

The U.S. Labor Department said logistics firm California Cartage Co. will pay $3.5 million to nearly 1,500 warehouse workers, after investigators found the Long Beach company failed to pay wages and benefits required under federal law.

Sep 10, 2018

Evolving shipper alliances cause volume dip at Port of Long Beach

Online Edition

Changes in how and where cargo carriers bring their goods into the U.S. have led to a dip over the past couple of months in the number of containers coming into the Port of Long Beach, officials said Monday, Sept. 10.

Container volumes have fallen for two straight months at the nation’s second-busiest seaport, a rarity since volumes typically don’t drop for more than one month before rebounding.

In August, cargo traffic was down 1.9 percent compared to the same month in 2017, according to port data. The month before, the port suffered a 4.4 percent drop in overall traffic.

About 679,000 20-foot container units moved through Long Beach docks in August and 688,000 in July. In June, the last month before the shifts, the port had the busiest cargo month in its history, moving over 752,000 containers, 14 percent more than the same month last year.

The port’s decline in cargo over the last two months is in large part a result of alliances formed by ocean carriers, according to Port of Long Beach Executive Director Mario Cordero. As part of the alliances, some carriers share space on each others’ vessels to cut down on costs and bypass certain marine terminals, particularly if the carriers operate terminals that are within relatively close proximity to one another.

“Three of the monthly (carrier) services that normally called at the Port of Long Beach were called over to the Port of LA,” said POLB spokesman Lee Peterson. “It’s meant about two to three fewer ships a month.”

A smaller factor in the August container numbers, Cordero said, is the higher tariffs on imported goods imposed by the U.S. and China over the past two months, but that hasn’t contributed to the fall in traffic.

“That appears to have helped increase traffic, as shippers act to beat duties imposed on goods this summer,” Cordero said.

“There was definitely a ramping up of activity,” Peterson confirmed.

Despite the downturn over the past couple of months, the port is still on pace to shatter its record for annual container traffic. The POLB moved 5.32 million units through the first eight months of the year, which is 9.4 percent above the pace of 2017, Long Beach’s best year ever for container traffic.

Online Edition

Changes in how and where cargo carriers bring their goods into the U.S. have led to a dip over the past couple of months in the number of containers coming into the Port of Long Beach, officials said Monday, Sept. 10.

Container volumes have fallen for two straight months at the nation’s second-busiest seaport, a rarity since volumes typically don’t drop for more than one month before rebounding.

Sep 11, 2018

Bill to Make Retailers, Shippers Jointly Liable for Port Trucking Industry Labor Violations

Print Edition

The state legislature has passed a bill that makes retailers, shippers and other businesses that contract with port-serving trucking companies jointly liable for labor violations by those trucking frims. The bill has been sent to the governor, who can either sign it, veto it, or take no action and allow it to become law.

Senate Bill (SB) 1402, authored by State Sen. Ricardo Lara of Long Beach intended to address systemic "exploitation of truck drivers who haul cargo from California's ports," according to a statement from Lara's office.

Last year, an investigation by USA Today brought attention to labor issues among port trucking companies operating at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The report's key finding was that many drivers were forced to finance their own trucks and enter into significant debt. The publication found that many such drivers were found to owe money to their employers and as a result were often working for well below minimum wage, and sometimes for free.

According to SB 1402, the California Division of Lavor Standards Enforcement has awarded $45 million to more than 450 truck drivers for "unlawful deductions from wages and out-of-pocket expenses."

The legislation requires that any customer that uses port drayage services "share with the motor carrier all civil legal responsibility and civil liability for port drayage services obtained." However, with some exceptions, joint liability would not be applied to customers who hire the services of a port trucking firm with employees operating under a collective bargaining agreement. Weston LaBar, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association (HTA), said that his organization remains opposed to the bill. The HTA represents trucking companies in the San Pedro Bay port complex.

"Anything that sends a message to folks who use California's ports that may make them think twice about using our ports is bad for the industry as a whole," LaBar said. He noted that some customers of HTA members have put contingency plans in place to ship discretionary cargo - cargo that could be shipped to a number of ports in difference regions based on the destination - to other states. "We feel like that's obviously bad for California's economy. We have concerns on what the impacts may be on lost discretionary cargo," he said.

According to Labar, while the California Trucking Association was originally opposed to SB 1402, it recently withdrew its opposition. Representatives from the organization could not be reached for comment.

John McLaurin, president of the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, declined to comment on how the matter could affect his members, deferring to trucking associations and beneficial cargo owners.

The bill was backed by the International Brotherhood of Teamssters. The union has been working to challenge what its leadership views as the misclassification of many port truckers as independent contractors rather than as trucking company employees.

 

Print Edition

The state legislature has passed a bill that makes retailers, shippers and other businesses that contract with port-serving trucking companies jointly liable for labor violations by those trucking frims. The bill has been sent to the governor, who can either sign it, veto it, or take no action and allow it to become law.

Senate Bill (SB) 1402, authored by State Sen. Ricardo Lara of Long Beach intended to address systemic "exploitation of truck drivers who haul cargo from California's ports," according to a statement from Lara's office.

Aug 31, 2018

Tariffs could hit L.A., Long Beach ports hard, analysis and experts say

Online Edition

If the latest salvos in an escalating trade war between the United States and China take effect, the resulting economic shock waves would likely hit Los Angeles and Long Beach ports the hardest, local officials fear.

The latest round of tariffs, threatening $200 billion worth of Chinese products the U.S. imports each year, stands to affect tens of billions of dollars worth of consumer goods – such as food, paper and handbags – coming into the L.A. area’s sprawling trade network, according to a Southern California News Group analysis of trade data.

President Donald Trump’s administration defends the tariffs as a difficult but necessary step to level the trade imbalance between the U.S. and many of its trading partners, particularly China.

When these tariffs would go into effect, and the extent to which they could harm trade, is still unknown. But officials in Washington, who have held several hearings in recent weeks, will allow public comment until Thursday, Sept. 6, so nothing can happen before then.

The president has said a tough trade stance will bring back jobs, inspire new, more balanced trade deals and create stronger protections for America’s intellectual property. This week, the administration reached a preliminary deal with Mexico to replace the North American Free Trade Agreement and was working to include Canada in the deal.

Trump said in a recent tweet, “Tariffs are working big time.”

As part of the strategy, U.S. Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer was tasked with identifying the $200 billion worth of Chinese goods to set tariffs on.

“The Trump Administration continues to urge China to stop its unfair practices, open its market, and engage in true market competition,” Lighthizer said in a statement earlier this month.

Still, experts say, the negative consequences of further tariffs could be wide-ranging – hitting everything from the ports themselves to the trucking industry, American manufacturing and consumers.

Los Angeles ports, with the highest value of imports last year, would be among the hardest hit by new tariffs on Chinese goods

Source: Census U.S. Trade Online database via AP (Graphic by Ian Wheeler, SCNG)

“We’ve seen standoffs in international commerce before, and there’s still time to resolve differences,” said Mario Cordero, the executive director of the Port of Long Beach, who this week called the trade dispute unfortunate. “But recent tit-for-tat measures aimed at imports and exports could cause long-term damage and harm American consumers and businesses.”

At the Port of Los Angeles, Executive Director Gene Seroka has said the new tariffs could impact up to a quarter of the cargo traveling through the docks, enough to fill more than a million 20-foot cargo containers. Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti added that the port could suffer a 20 percent drop in volume.

“That equals 1.4 million (units), about $43 billion of trade value,” port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said this week. “That roughly equals containers lined up from L.A. to New York and back again to L.A.”

The proposed tariffs are set to burden some of the L.A. port’s top imported commodities, including auto parts, computer parts and accessories, machinery, and appliances, according to port data; top exported commodities that could be hit by Chinese retaliation include cotton, waste paper, plastics and scrap aluminum.

Still, experts and industry insiders disagree on how quickly the tariffs will land on the backs of consumers and whether it will hamper spending.

“The demand for some goods could outweigh any increases in price resulting from tariffs,” said Noel Hacegaba, the deputy executive director for the Long Beach port. “And that’s assuming the shipper passes on 100 percent of the tariff to the end consumer.”

But Clayton Dube, executive director of USC’s U.S.-China Institute, said, as an example, consumers can expect to see increases in the prices of goods manufactured from steel, since the tariffs have raised the price of the imported metal from China and elsewhere.

“Business customers will see higher prices for engine parts, for some kinds of construction equipment, for scales, for imaging equipment, for parts for printers and other electronic equipment,” Dube said. “Some types of farm equipment have been targeted.”

And, Dube noted, the likelihood of retaliatory tariffs from China could hit a number of American exporters, including California’s sizable agriculture industry.

That’s why officials for both the L.A. and Long Beach ports have gone on the offensive against the tariffs, even sending out tweets blasting the proposal.

“Tariffs could bring a significant reduction in cargo economic activity and ultimately jobs,” read one tweet the Port of L.A. sent this week. “Manufacturing and associated U.S. jobs could be at risk with current tariffs.”

Meanwhile, at the adjoining Port of Long Beach, internal data show that 10 percent of all loaded containers coming through the port have been impacted by the tariffs implemented last week.

The $200 billion of additional proposed tariffs – and a proposed $60 billion worth of U.S. exports to China – would raise that to 28 percent of all loaded containers moving through Long Beach, port figures show.

A wide spectrum of goods and materials moving through the port would be hit: aluminum, chemicals, machinery and parts, appliances, and electronics, said port spokesman Lee Peterson.

But it’s not just the ports that are worried about the tariffs – businesses are too.

On Monday, in fact, the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative held its final public hearing on the proposed tariffs, during which officials from hundreds of companies spoke about the effect the levies could have on their businesses.

Among those criticizing the tariffs were representatives from several Southern California businesses, including Ultra Wheel Company, a Fullerton manufacturer.

“The proposed tariffs would cause a severe harm to us, our distributors, and U.S. consumers,” Ultra Wheel president Fred Dobler said at the hearing, noting he would likely have to cut jobs. “The tariff would force us to increase the price of our products to our customers.”

The tariffs could also hurt one of the most volatile group of port-related workers, truck drivers. Many of the truckers are independent contractors who, if trade volume decreases, may lose work, said Weston LaBar, CEO of the Harbor Trucking Association in Long Beach.

“It’s hard to retain drivers,” he said. “If we don’t have work for those drivers, we’re worried they will leave for some other segment of the trucking business or go into another business, like construction.”

The tariffs’ impacts could also extend far beyond the L.A.-Long Beach port complex – reaching into every trading hub in the Southland.

The Southern California News Group analyzed trade figures collected by the Census’ U.S. Trade Online database and prepared by the Associated Press.

The Census groups the nation’s ports of entry by land, air and sea into customs districts. Last year, the Los Angeles district, which includes LAX and Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport, handled the highest-valued volume of goods in the U.S., worth $303 billion.

If passed, the new levies would affect at least 14 percent of that volume. With the tariffs on foreign steel and aluminum already in place, 18 percent of the district’s total imports would be subject to taxes.

The districts of New York City and Laredo, Texas, were second and third in import worth behind Los Angeles last year, valued at $228 billion and $117 billion, respectively. Adding proposed tariffs to those already in place, 8 percent of goods headed to New York would be affected, as would 2 percent of goods headed to Laredo.

The difference is the huge volume of Chinese goods Los Angeles receives compared with other shipping centers; the proposed round would hit $43 billion worth of goods headed to the Los Angeles area compared with $13 billion for New York and $2 billion for Laredo.

These nine import categories face tariffs targeting over $1 billion worth of goods bound for Los Angeles

Source: Census U.S. Trade Online database via AP (Graphic by Ian Wheeler, SCNG)

Locally, the looming tolls stand to hit the most valuable category of imports hard: electric machinery, equipment and parts – such as vacuum cleaners, electric razors, and various components for cars and home appliances.

In 2017, $55 billion worth of these products were shipped to Los Angeles, and the district is on track to bring in at least that amount by the end of this year. (By comparison, Apple has about $1.6 billion worth of iPhones, Macbooks and other merchandise on hand in its inventories.)

Tariffs imposed earlier this year already affect $4 billion of that total; if the Trump administration makes good on its latest threat, another $12 billion would be added, totaling $16 billion – a little under a third of the annual value.

The tariffs come at a bad time for the L.A.-Long Beach port complex, the busiest in North America. Last year, L.A. moved 9.3 million containers, an all-time record. Long Beach also set its own record, moving 7.5 million cargo containers – and it’s on pace for 4 percent more cargo this year.

“Modern supply chains are very complicated and by messing with their components, follow-on consequences are very likely,” said marketing professor Terrence Witkowski, director of Cal State Long Beach’s international business program at Cal State Long Beach and a harsh critic of President Trump’s trade policies. “I strongly suspect that the Trump administration’s crackpot trade policies will harm the ports of L.A. and LB.”

Online Edition

If the latest salvos in an escalating trade war between the United States and China take effect, the resulting economic shock waves would likely hit Los Angeles and Long Beach ports the hardest, local officials fear.

The latest round of tariffs, threatening $200 billion worth of Chinese products the U.S. imports each year, stands to affect tens of billions of dollars worth of consumer goods – such as food, paper and handbags – coming into the L.A. area’s sprawling trade network, according to a Southern California News Group analysis of trade data.