In a move that is likely to displease retailers and other cargo interests, the Los Angeles Harbor Commission Thursday agreed to pay The Gephardt Group, a Washington lobbying firm, an additional $75,000 to pursue the port’s “on-going, unmet federal legislative needs.”
Los Angeles has been quite open about its desire to amend federal preemption law so it can enforce the employee-driver mandate in its clean-truck program. That mandate would make it easier for the Teamsters Union to organize harbor truck drivers, most of whom are classified as independent contractors.
The Port of Los Angeles in May 2009 hired The Gephardt Group specifically to secure an amendment to the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act, which prohibits state and local entities from regulating harbor trucking.
Since then, the port has paid the Gephardt Group $265,500 for its lobbying efforts, and this latest payment will bring the total to $340,500, which will fund the lobbying efforts through August.
The Gephardt Group will be expected to continue its advocacy support for amending the act in order to “strengthen the ability of any publicly-owned port to enact environmental programs on a par with the extraordinary environmental challenges facing the harbor department,” the board stated in its agenda item.
A number of carrier and shipper organizations have written to port executives asking them to discontinue a lobbying effort that they say would lead to increased trucking costs in Los Angeles once drivers are organized.
In discussing the agenda item, Isaac Kos-Read, deputy executive director, said the Los Angeles clean-truck program has generated a good deal of interest in Congress, especially since the House Transportation and Infrastructure Committee on May 5 held a public hearing on the program.
He noted that committee staffers from Washington will be in Los Angeles next week for a two-day in depth look at the harbor drayage system.
-- Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com.