Thursday, May 6, 2010

Rep. Duncan Blasts LA Port's Attempts to Bar Independent Truck Drivers

The ranking republican on a House transportation committee looking into the effect of the Southern California ports' trucking programs on Wednesday, blasted the Port of Los Angeles' attempts to bar independent owner-operators from servicing the port.

House Committee on Transportation and Infrastructure Subcommittee on Highways and Transit member Rep. John Duncan, Jr. of Tennessee said during the hearing that he and many others have concerns about a requirement of the Port of Los Angeles truck plan that calls for all drivers serving the ports to be per-hour employees, instead of per-load independent owner-operators, a status shared by more than 80 percent of the port's current drivers.

The Los Angeles port's employee-only requirement is currently injuncted under order of a federal judge. This court injunction has virtually eliminated the differences between the two ports' individual plans and both ports are currently running truck programs that are virtual mirror-copies of each other.

Duncan pointed out that vast majority of the 800 trucking firms serving the two ports under the truck plans are small businesses with less than 50 trucks.

"The histories of many different industries have shown that if an industry is highly regulated small businesses often go by the wayside and then even medium-sized businesses have trouble surviving," Duncan said. "Then we are left with only a few large companies dominating the market. This reduces competition, hurts small businesses and leads to higher prices."

Duncan said that because the goal of the two truck plans is to reduce truck emissions, a goal both have successfully achieved, this requirement for employee-only drivers is "a solution in search of a problem," and attempting to fix "something that is not broken."