Friday, January 24, 2020

California Independent Truckers Get Brief Reprieve from AB-5

By Karen Robes Meeks

California’s independent truckers scored a win last week when US Southern District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez granted a preliminary injunction to halt the state’s enforcement of a new employment classification test against motor carriers until a final judgment is rendered, the California Trucking Association (CTA) announced.

“This ruling is a significant win for California’s more than 70,000 independent owner-operators and CTA members who have worked as independent truckers for decades, and who have invested hundreds of thousands of dollars to own their own vehicle and comply with California’s strict environmental guidelines and regulations over the years,” said CTA CEO Shawn Yadon.

The association filed the preliminary injunction motion as part of its lawsuit challenging Assembly Bill 5, which was to take effect Jan. 1.

In his 23-page Jan. 16 decision, Benitez said “There is little question that the state of California has encroached on Congress’ territory by eliminating motor carriers’ choice to use independent contractor drivers, a choice at the very heart of interstate trucking. In so doing, California disregards Congress’ intent to deregulate interstate trucking, instead adopting a law that produces the patchwork of state regulations Congress sought to prevent. With AB-5, California runs off the road and into the preemption ditch of the FAAAA (Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994).”

For more on the decision, visit

Port of Los Angeles Director Appointed to State Workforce Board

By Karen Robes Meeks

California Governor Gavin Newsom has appointed Port of Los Angeles Director of Labor Relations and Workforce Development Avin Sharma to the California Workforce Development Board, which advises the governor in workforce development-related policies.

“Avin brings a wealth of experience in building high road training partnership among management and labor that will be a huge asset to the Board’s work and mission,” said Tim Rainey, Executive Director of the California Workforce Development Board. “We’re honored to have him join the Board and represent the Port of Los Angeles.”

Before coming to the port in 2017, Sharma served in the Obama Administration as White House liaison and counselor to the secretary at the U.S. Department of Labor, economics director for the presidential personnel office at the White House and special assistant to the chairman of the Foreign Claims Settlement Commission at the U.S. Department of Justice.

“I’m extremely honored to be appointed to this prestigious board, which has done so much to advance the workforce needs of California,” said Sharma. “I plan to make the most of this opportunity to help prepare and ready our state’s workforce for success in the decades ahead.”

Port of Everett Seeks Input on Crane Lighting Demo

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Everett would like the community to participate in a crane lighting demonstration happening from Jan. 29 to Feb. 5 at the seaport.

The port is gathering feedback on a pair of Federal Aviation Administration airspace navigation compliance options it is considering related to the installation of container cranes acquired for South Terminal.

The FAA requires that any structure taller than 200 feet located within applicable flight zones must be marked or illuminated per FAA Obstruction Marking and Lighting Requirements.

The South Terminal cranes are 215 feet tall, and the port is near the flight paths for both Naval Station Everett and Providence Hospital. As such the port is considering the following options:

• Keep the cranes as they are and mark the parts that exceed 200 feet with the current white and orange hash markings, or

• Paint the cranes to match the port’s shorter, 197-foot tall cranes at Pacific Terminal, and install red and white pulsating lights, to be continuously lit, on the portion that exceed 200 feet.

To find out more information and to weigh in go to

Port of Hueneme Has a New Board President

By Karen Robes Meeks

Jess Ramirez will serve the next year as president of the Board of Harbor Commissioners for the Oxnard Harbor District, which governs the Port of Hueneme.

Ramirez takes over for Commissioner Jess Herrera, who was honored with a commemorative gavel for his 2019 service as board president. First elected to the board in 1992, Ramirez has served as president five times. Before retiring last year, he worked as a longshoreman for 51 years.

“The Port of Hueneme is the Greenest Port in America,” he said. “During my tenure as Port President, I want to build on this accomplishment and usher in policies that support our economic vibrancy while moving the Port towards carbon neutrality. I am especially excited about an urban tree project that is currently in the idea stage but can grow to become a model for ports around the globe.”

Jason Hodge will serve as Vice President and Mary Anne Rooney as Secretary.

Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Port of Los Angeles Chief Announces Plans, New Cargo Numbers at State of the Port

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Los Angeles handled more than 9.3 million TEUs last year, nearly beating a cargo record, Executive Director Gene Seroka announced at last week’s annual State of the Port.

“In the face of lagging exports due to international trade tensions and tariff uncertainties, the Port of Los Angeles has maintained strong momentum and kept cargo flowing,” Seroka said. “This feat was only possible because of the extensive cooperation and continued efficiency improvements by our terminal operators, supply chain partners and longshore workforce.”

At the event hosted by the Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, Seroka also spoke of plans to kick off the Port’s new Labor Collaborative, a targeted workforce development effort to address port-related work and training needs, as well as the nation’s first Terminal Efficiency Incentive Program that aligns with the port’s new truck reservation system and rewards improved truck turn times.

“It’s time for the courage and long-range vision to imagine what this port will look like in the years ahead and set a course in that direction,” Seroka said. “It’s going to take collaboration to keep cargo volumes strong and our Port community thriving in the midst of increasing competition, an uncertain trade environment and a world where technology is essential to success.”

Port of Vancouver USA Creates New Community Fund Program

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Vancouver USA has developed a new community fund program to support projects that promote trade, tourism and jobs in the region.

The port has set aside $5,000 for the first year of the program, which will be used to fund projects and programs within the port district.

“Over the years, the port has received requests from school groups and others to help with educational and development programs, but we have never had a mechanism to provide assistance,” said port Chief External Affairs Officer Ryan Hart. “We hope this new program will allow some very deserving projects in our community to move forward and we’re excited to see what kind of applications we receive.” Visit for more information on the program and to download application form. Application must be submitted by Feb. 7. The port is expected to name award recipients by Feb. 28.

Port of San Diego Swears in 2020 Executive Officers

By Karen Robes Meeks

Ann Moore has been sworn in as Chair of the Port of San Diego Board of Port Commissioners, with Michael Zucchet as Vice Chair and Dan Malcolm as Secretary.

Moore said her theme for this year is “Port of the Future” and added that the focus will be advancing the Port Master Plan Update and continuing the transformation of the Chula Vista Bayfront.

“I’m inspired by ports around the world that continue to reinvest in their waterfronts to keep them new and fresh to meet changing public needs,” Moore said. “Seattle comes to mind with its Pike Place Market and plans for a waterfront aquarium. Sydney is another premier example with its iconic Sydney Harbour Bridge and the Sydney Opera House. The best waterfronts don’t remain the same and that’s how I see the Port of San Diego’s role for San Diego Bay – planning for the future while also being flexible so we can continue to evolve.

Empties Led to Dip in 2019 Cargo Volume at Port of Oakland

By Karen Robes Meeks

The Port of Oakland moved 1.8 percent fewer containers in 2019 handling 2.5 million TEUs last year compared to 2.55 million TEUs the year before, according to latest numbers released Friday.

A 13 percent decrease in empty containers is part of the reason for the lower overall number. Still, the port posted record import and export numbers.

According to the port, exports rose by 3.7 percent – thanks to new markets demand for US agricultural goods – and imports by 1 percent in 2019, resulting in 1.9 million loaded TEUs, breaking the 2018 record of 1.86 million TEUs.

“We’re encouraged that our loaded imports and exports set annual records,” said Port of Oakland Maritime Director John Driscoll. “We are looking to improve on this cargo performance in the coming year, especially if the US and China can continue to break down trade barriers.”