At the same time, the Port of Los Angeles has mounted a Clean Truck Program to cut emissions for truck operators working the nation’s busiest port. The port argues that large, financially stable carriers can do a better job of providing newer trucks with cleaner engines than owner-operators who might struggle to afford new technology. So the port plans to convert the trucking providers, now 90 percent owner-operators, to an all-employee workforce by the end of 2013. The American Trucking Associations has challenged that part of the program in court, saying it has nothing to do with meeting clean air goals.
Some carriers and port observers view the plan as a favor to the Teamsters, who cannot organize independent contractors. Port authorities in Oakland, Calif., New York, Seattle and Newark, N.J., among others, are closely watching the Los Angeles port developments before initiating similar programs.