Rep. Jerrold Nadler, D-N.Y., Wednesday introduced legislation to reduce truck pollution at container ports -- and to make it easier for the Teamsters union to organize harbor truck drivers.
The Clean Ports Act of 2011 is similar to legislation Nadler introduced last year. It would confirm that ports in labor-friendly cities such as Los Angeles, New York, Newark, Oakland and Seattle possess the legal authority to set standards for clean trucks.
The Port of Los Angeles clean-truck program seeks to achieve clean-air goals by banning old, polluting trucks and through various concession requirements regulating off-street parking of rigs and requiring maintenance plans for trucks.
Also, the Los Angeles plan mandates the use of employee drivers. Most harbor truck drivers across the country are owner-operators, and those independent contractors, by law, can not be organized by labor unions.
The American Trucking Associations has challenged the Los Angeles concession requirements as violating federal preemption law, which reserves for the federal government the authority to regulate the rates, routes and services of motor carriers engaged in interstate commerce. The case is under appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.
The Nadler bill envisions a similar regime at ports in cities where the mayors are on record supporting clean-air initiatives and the ability of harbor truck drivers to be organized by labor unions.
"The Clean Ports Act represents a crucial modernization of federal law that would dramatically improve the quality of air for the estimated 87 millions of Americans who live and work near major container ports," Nadler said.
-- Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at email@example.com.