Sunday, November 15, 2009

US And Canadian Freight Truck Professionals Protest In Different Ways

Californian Hauliers Object to Way Clean Air Act Enforced – Ontarian Examiners to “Union Bashing”
Shipping News Feature

US – CANADA – Hundreds of owner drivers, with their rigs, hit the street on Friday to complain about the way the new clean air legislation affecting the Californian Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach was being enforced. Drivers have complaints surrounding different aspects of the new rules but a major point made by the representatives of the National Port Drivers Association (NPDA) is that it appears unconstitutional.

Our pollution review in October mentioned that Long Beach and the American Trucking Association (ATA) had settled their differences over the matter but the NPDA point out that Los Angeles proscribes owner drivers from entering the port in their older, more polluting rigs whilst giving grants to larger drayage companies to update their equipment so it meets with the regulations under the 2007 Federal Emissions legislation.

The NPDA has always accepted the need to lower pollution but points out that the owner drivers simply do not have the resources to re-equip their trucks. They are asking for a two year extension to the new rules for independents from the 1st January inception date. From that point no trucks manufactured before 1994 will be allowed access to the ports and only equipment bearing the new equipment necessary to cut pollution, built after that date, will be allowed in.

The Port of Los Angeles claim they are prepared to give the state grants available, up to $80,000 per truck, to independents, they will not however allow access to the port to owner drivers from 2013, whether or not they have the right equipment. The Port Authority is demanding only employees of larger truck companies work in the docks. It is this aspect which the NPDA claims as unconstitutional. A Port spokesman said only larger carriers had the ability and the capital to guarantee all the equipment entering the port was up to the required standard.

The truckers, reports vary as to how many, between 100 and 400, held a protest more reminiscent of France than California as they crawled past City Hall honking and flashing, alas the City Council were, as Councils often seem to be at such times, taking a break from the strains of urban management, so none were present to see the objectors.

Ontario, Canada sees a very different kind of protest. Pickets have been in place outside driving test facilities since 21st August. The 550 or so state driving examiners have issues including the fact that management routinely take on extra hours to ensure tests are completed rather than give overtime to unionised staff.

The 90 or so test centres were state run up to 2003 then handed to Serco DES Incorporated, a private contractor. On the same day the LA drivers held their protest, so to did the Canadian examiners, incurring a citation from local police as they prevented novice truckers from embarking on their tests for up to 15 minutes at a time. The tactic of delaying tests is the strikers’ normal method of illustrating their grievances as management cross the picket lines.