The issues were raised in August by local owner-operator truck drivers, who haul cargo between local warehouses and port terminals leased and operated by shipping lines. Several hundred drivers at the ports of Tacoma and Seattle, WA, staged a job protest for a week.
Port of Tacoma staff members met with trucking company officials and terminal operators September 17 to gather information on ways to reduce delays faced by truck drivers at terminal gates. The Port of Seattle has started similar discussions with its terminal operators and trucking companies.
"It's in everybody's best interest to resolve these issues," says Port of Tacoma Commission President Clare Petrich. "Our staff is prepared to take appropriate steps to resolve this matter to the satisfaction of all parties."
The Port of Tacoma has agreed to facilitate and host a series of one-on-one meetings between trucking companies and terminal operators to address specific issues related to truck gates.
"Each terminal has a unique method of operation, and each terminal needs to be approached individually," Petrich says.
The actions in Washington State followed a month-long strike at the port of Vancouver, British Columbia, which ended after the majority of the trucking companies agreed to pay an hourly wage rather than a flat rate per load.
However, published reports indicate that more than a dozen carriers are refusing to honor the hourly wage agreement, which went into effect Wednesday. The Owner Operator Independent Drivers Assn. reports that in an open letter distributed to owner-operators, carriers said they would not pay the hourly wage because they felt they had been forced to sign it in order to receive a license to operate at the port.
Officials with the Vancouver Port Authority say they never had a policy of this kind in place. The port only requires that carriers pay a "fair wage."