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Georgia Port Truckers Angry About Repair Edict

November 7, 2001

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Intermodal container haulers at the Port of Savannah, Ga., aren't happy about being told they can't do minor fixes on container chassis before taking them on the road.

In a letter handed out to port truckers in late October, the Georgia Ports Authority says all repair activities by drivers must cease immediately. Activities such as repairing or replacing light lens and bulbs, airing up tires, adjusting brakes or repairing mudflaps must be done by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, they say. "The contract between the ILA and the ocean carrier prohibits any repairs or modifications to carrier equipment by any non-ILA work force," says John Trent, director of operations, in the letter.
Truckers are furious, because if they are pulled over on the highways for unsafe equipment, they're responsible for the fine. It they wait around for union employees to make the repairs, they say, it makes it even more difficult to make a living. Port drivers are paid by the load, and long waits caused by increased container traffic and outdated facilities have already cut into the number of loads that can be hauled in a day.
A year ago, Savannah port truckers staged a protest over delays caused by glitches in a new computer system. To this day, truckers say, glitches in the system continue to back up traffic outside the port gates any time there is an increase in freight.

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