Truckers who haul in and out of the nation’s ports have complained for years about long -- and unpaid – waits for loads. An unexpected source may finally change that – environmentalists.

A bill in the California legislature, supported by the state trucking association and by environmentalists, would fine container terminal operators $250 for every truck that idles at the terminal gate for more than 30 minutes. If the bill is passed, it probably would mean longer terminal gate hours to help spread the truck traffic over a longer day – which has led to the support of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, which sees it as a way to get more work for its members at a time when the union is concerned about how technology could cut that work.
The Journal of Commerce reports that the bill is “catching fire” in the Legislature. The California Trucking Assn. is predicting that the bill will be approved this summer, taking effect next January.
According to JOC, the American Trucking Associations’ Intermodal Conference says the legislation is a model bill that will be used by environmental groups in other states with intermodal terminals that have been fighting with the same growing pains as Southern California.
The Teamsters union also supports the bill, and plans to push for similar legislation in other states. The union has been seeking to organize truck drivers at the nation’s ports.
Shipping lines and terminal operators are staunchly opposed to the bill, saying it will cripple the ports. The Pacific Merchant Shipping Assn. would like to see exemptions for terminals using an appointment system designed to result in a 30-minute or less wait time, for terminals operating a “trouble” lane for truckers that missed their appointment o arrived early, for trucks arriving before terminals’ normal hours of operation, and for terminals that operate 70 or more hours a week. The PMSA also has asked that the bill be applied only to the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, rather than statewide.
The bill’s sponsor, Assemblyman Alan Lowenthal, D-Long Beach, says the PMSA’s suggested changes don’t do anything to solve the problem of idling.