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LA/Long Beach Port Drivers Schedule Traffic Jam Wednesday

June 25, 2007

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A convoy of Los Angeles and Long Beach port drivers will jam the Harbor Freeway (110) with tractor-trailers during the morning rush hour Wednesday, in conjunction with a scheduled meeting of port stakeholders in Long Beach,
according to the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports.
The drivers' mobilization is a challenge to opposition to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach "Clean Trucks Program," a proposal to clean the air, create healthy communities and improve jobs. The convoy will begin in the low-income South Los Angeles neighborhoods where many of the drivers live.
Advocates claim diesel truck fumes have led to a high incidence of asthma, cancer and other pollution-related diseases, disproportionately affecting children in communities at risk - including the very same families of port truck drivers. Statewide, drivers are becoming more outspoken over alleged attempts by special interest groups to thwart a solution that would drastically improve the air quality, a mandate for planned port expansion. Drivers at the Port of Oakland will hold a simultaneous rally.
The coalition says responsibility for buying and maintaining the trucks that move goods from the Ports of LA and Long Beach to retailers like Target, Wal Mart and Home Depot currently rests on the backs of the 16,000 area port truck drivers - instead of the for-profit companies who contract them.
The Ports have proposed changing this system, calling it a major source of the pollution in the harbor and surrounding communities. Key to the Ports' plan is a provision that would transform the underpaid drivers' status as "independent contractors" into employees in order to hold the trucking contractors accountable to new environmental and labor standards.
The Clean Trucks Program would shift responsibility for halting pollution from the drivers to the trucking companies and their shipper clients. It would also establish standards for business on port property, including a provision that trucking companies must hire the drivers as employees and take on the responsibility for buying, retrofitting and maintaining environmentally clean trucks.

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