By Ashley Chambers
Their backs to the wall, independent truckers at the Port of Oakland have voted to authorize a third work stoppage since August as they await the results a meeting with local and state officials over new emission standards that will put many of the truckers out of business on Jan. 1.
Honking big rigs surrounded Oakland City Hall last week as members of the Port of Oakland Truckers Association (POTA), an informal organization of independent truckers, met with Port of Oakland Executive Director Chris Lytle, Deputy Mayor Sandré Swanson, and members of the California Air Resource Board (CARB) and Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD) to protest new CARB emissions standards that go into effect in January that prohibit trucks built before 2007 from working at the port.
As a result of the regulations, truckers would have to take out loans for $60,000 to $80,000 to buy new trucks, and their old vehicles will have little resale value.
The truckers are demanding a one-year extension on the CARB regulations and a “green emissions fee” of $50 per load to help pay the costs for upgrading their trucks.
They are also asking for a $50 congestion fee for trucks that are being forced to wait in line for four to six hours to drop off loads at terminals that are inefficient and understaffed.
In addition, truckers are demanding that the city drop its lawsuit against two owner-operator truck drivers for their alleged participation in a work stoppage Aug. 19 and drop an injunction on protests at the port.
CARB has denied demands for a deadline extension and funding.
Before the Nov. 13 meeting ended, Mayor Jean Quan and Port Director Lytle said they would look into helping find funding for truckers.
The trucker association could strike as early as next week if there is no response to their demands.
“We are fighting for jobs over here in the Port of Oakland. Oakland and the State of California cannot afford to lose 800 jobs in one day,” said Frank Adams, a spokesperson for POTA and a trucker who has worked at the port for almost nine years.
“We’re hoping that the Port of Oakland and the city can step up and get funding for truckers that need to stay in work,” he said.
While truckers have a little over a month to comply with clean-air emissions standards. CARB has given transport corporations seven years to meet the same requirements. Truckers are asking for equal treatment from the port and CARB.
A strike would shut down economic activity at the port, which amounts to about $8 million a day.
According to Sean Maher, Mayor Jean Quan’s representative, state agencies are seeking funding to help truckers purchase new vehicles. However, he said, there is no possibility of postponing the Jan. 1 deadline.
Courtesy of the Oakland Post, November 21, 2013 (www.postnewsgroup.com)