Thursday, January 28, 2010

AAPA to Oppose Labor Lobby Plans

The American Association of Port Authorities, which represents more than 140 of the nation's major ports, has decided to oppose efforts by a handful of members to lobby federal officials to do away with portions of federal trucking deregulation laws.

The decision, approved by the AAPA's government policy committee, goes against current lobbying efforts by AAPA member ports in Los Angeles, New Jersey-New York and Oakland that seek to change portions of the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994. The FAAAA prohibited state and local entities from passing laws or regulations that affect rates, routes and services of interstate trucking.

Officials in Los Angeles have already allocated $265,000 to lobby Congress to change the FAAAA to allow local authorities to regulate trucking firms when it comes to truck security, safety and environmental impact.

The move by Los Angeles, Oakland and NJ/NY is to one degree an effort to circumvent successful legal challenges by the American Trucking Associations to the Los Angeles port's trucking re-regulation program. A federal court found that portions of the Los Angeles port's truck plan violated the FAAAA restriction on local regulation.

The Los Angeles port's truck plan, which was initially developed in tandem with the neighboring Port of Long Beach, seeks to force motor carriers to hire only per-hour employees instead of the current norm of per-load independent owner-operators. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters is also supporting the efforts to change the FAAAA.
The Port of Long Beach, which is no longer involved in the litigation with the ATA, instead chose to regulate trucks, not the carriers, and included no labor requirement in its version of the truck plan. Under current law, the ports can set certain criteria on trucks seeking access to port facilities. Long Beach's version of the truck plan has relied on these criteria to move forward with its version of the truck plan, claiming an 80 percent drop in diesel emissions from port truck-generated pollution without conflicting with the FAAAA language.

Long Beach port officials have also publicly opposed the lobbying efforts to change FAAAA.
In the Pacific Northwest, the Port of Seattle had also approved $60,000 to lobby against changing the FAAAA and supporting the AAPA position of maintaining current federal laws.
The Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports, which include a long list of civic, labor and environmental groups, is supporting the efforts by the Los Angeles, NJ/NY, and Oakland ports to lobby for changes to the FAAAA.

In a statement, the Coalition slammed Seattle port chief executive Tay Yoshitani for seeking the AAPA policy statement against changing the FAAAA.

"This is unconscionable," said Brady Montz, Chair of the Seattle Group of the Sierra Club, which is a member of the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports.

"For years, the Port of Seattle has claimed that our outdated federal laws limit their ability to protect Seattle's neighborhoods from polluting trucks; and now it turns out that Tay Yoshitani is working behind the scenes to prevent the Port from even having the option to enforce environmental standards for trucking companies," said Montz.

The Coalition also dismissed the importance of the AAPA, telling the Journal of Commerce that the association's position should not be considered representative of the top 10 container ports in the United States.

A spokesperson for the Coalition told the Journal that the AAPA represents many smaller ports that do not have significant truck traffic and are in regions that do not see build-ups of pollution.

According to the AAPA membership list, each of the top 25 busiest container ports in the United States are represented and the top executives at the nation's two largest, Long Beach and Los Angeles, have both served year-long tenures as president of the AAPA in recent years.