Pro-Union Groups Mislead Public About Port Trucking

October 1, 2009

ARLINGTON, Va., Oct. 1 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ — In a blast of six press releases today from various union and pro-union sources, backers of the Teamsters’ effort to change federal law in order to organize port drayage truck drivers are severely misleading the public and encouraging the waste of taxpayers’ funds to help organize unions.

The press releases contain blatant falsehoods about the Clean Trucks Program in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and the American Trucking Associations’ (ATA) support of those programs. The ATA has supported the Clean Trucks Program in both ports and its members have helped the ports replace older trucks with newer, cleaner trucks at a rate that is well ahead of schedule. Both programs are successes in their current forms, yet neither port has enforced the restrictive concession plan requirements that the U.S. Court of Appeals declared illegal last March. The releases falsely suggest that the Clean Truck Programs cannot succeed without those concession plan requirements in place.

“The union-led effort uses a campaign for clean air as a cover for an all-out effort to destroy small independent businesses owned by independent truck owner-operators and replace them with larger trucking companies whose employees can be more easily organized by the Teamsters,” said ATA Vice President of Public Affairs Clayton Boyce. “Unions and their supporters are wrongly claiming that banning independent owner-operators is necessary to clean the air. The recent experience in the Port of Los Angeles, where clean air efforts are far ahead of schedule even though the L.A. ban on owner-operators has been enjoined, has shown that claim to be false.”

The releases were issued on the first anniversary of the Los Angeles and Long Beach truck plans by:

  • Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC), which has frequently attacked the ATA for challenging the illegal and unconstitutional Los Angeles concession plan;
  • New Jersey Environmental Federation, which backs a pro-union plan in the Port of New York and New Jersey;
  • Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO;
  • Teachers Association of Long Beach;
  • Center for Environmental Health, Oakland, Calif., which wants to ban owner-operators in the Port of Oakland; and
  • Puget Sound Sage, which says the group “brings together labor, faith and community to build an economy based on shared prosperity.” That group also wants to ban owner-operators from the Port of Seattle-Tacoma.

The Port Clean Truck Programs clean the air by banning older trucks, an action which ATA supports. By the end of 2011, only trucks that meet 2007 model year emission requirements will be allowed into the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. These 2007 model engines “exceeded substantially even those levels required by law,” said a study conducted by the Coordinating Research Council and the Health Effects Institute. Current engine models produced 98 percent less carbon monoxide, 10 percent less nitrogen oxide, 95 percent less non-methane hydrocarbons and 89 percent less particulate matter than required by the Environmental Protection Agency’s 2007 diesel engine emission standards, the study said. Trucks’ environmental improvements also rest upon use of Ultra-Low Sulfur Diesel fuel. Ships, railroads and off-road vehicles use dirtier fuel.

The U.S. Court of Appeals and a U.S. District Court ruled earlier this year that banning owner-operators from ports likely violates federal law, rejecting the argument from the Port of Los Angeles, the NRDC and several other groups that a ban was needed to help the port achieve its environmental and safety goals. The Appeals Court belittled that position, noting that the judges “see little safety-related merit in those thread-paper arguments, which denigrate small businesses and insist that individuals should work for large employers or not at all.”

The releases endorse the false claim of a union group called the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports that ATA asked a federal court “to kill the clean air program.” ATA supports the ports’ clean air programs and agreed to the ports’ graduated ban on older diesel trucks. The fact that ATA secured an injunction against Los Angeles banning independent contractors and that the clean air aspects of the Los Angles Truck Program are moving ahead with great success belies such an outrageous claim.

One of the releases praises the findings of the Port of Oakland’s economic impact analysis by the firm Beacon Economics, which says, “The majority of truckers serving the Port are independent owner-operators who do not wish to become employee drivers.” The analysis also says, “IOO and employee driver earnings are comparable, and significantly higher than non-drayage truck driver earnings.” If the port is successful in banning independent businesses from port drayage, “costs of regulatory compliance combined with an employee driver requirement would raise drayage rates by up to 53 percent.” That conclusion contradicts one press release’s claim that a pro-union plan would make the ports more competitive.

When the NRDC and similar groups tried the same misleading tactics in Los Angeles, newspapers there criticized their methods in strongly worded editorials. According to the Los Angeles Times, “Despite the arguments of the proponents, there was never a compelling need to eliminate independent truckers, a move that would … do nothing to clean the air.” The Los Angeles Business Journal said that Mayor Villaraigosa met with Teamsters President James Hoffa to shape the port plan. The mayor and the port attempted “contorting it into a payoff for union cronies,” the Journal said.

The Los Angeles Daily News and the Press-Telegram newspaper in Long Beach, whose port and mayor admirably refused to ban owner-operators, and said a Teamsters-inspired campaign by environmental groups “tried to vilify” the mayor and port. The groups tarred opponents of an owner-operator ban as “immoral,” the papers said. ATA’s Boyce “has taken on L.A. politicians and port officials for deliberately misleading the press and the public about a Clean Trucks Program designed to cut diesel pollution. And he is absolutely right,” the Press-Telegram said.

Unfazed by the fact that clean air is not related to a driver’s employment status, the unions and environmental group supporters are asking Congress to change federal transportation law to effectively nullify the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision and the federal law that protects motor carriers, shippers and consumers from unnecessary and costly state and local regulations. The unions are willing to disrupt national transportation policy, undermine thousands of small businesses and place millions of dollars of unnecessary cost on freight transportation, just to allow them to better advance their organizing goals.

The American Trucking Associations is the largest national trade association for the trucking industry. Through a federation of other trucking groups, industry-related conferences, and its 50 affiliated state trucking associations, ATA represents more than 37,000 members covering every type of motor carrier in the United States.

SOURCE American Trucking Associations

Source: newswire

comments powered by Disqus