Four Groups Join ATA in Clean Trucks Appeal

Four Groups Join ATA in Clean Trucks Appeal

Four organizations followed the Harbor Trucking Association by individually filing amicus briefs in support of the American Trucking Associations in its lawsuit challenging the legality of the concession agreements contained in the Port of Los Angeles clean-truck program.

The Intermodal Association of North America, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation, the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association and the Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence filed their briefs with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit.

The 9th Circuit is handling the clean-truck case on appeal from the U.S. District Court in Los Angeles. The district court in September upheld the legality of the concession requirements. However, the district court enjoined implementation of the most controversial requirement, which is the employee-driver mandate, while the case is under appeal to the 9th Circuit.

Ports nationwide, as well as the harbor trucking industry, are watching this case closely as it will determine the ability of ports to regulate trucking for purposes of reducing emissions from trucks. The employee-driver mandate, if allowed to stand, would open the door to unionization of harbor truck drivers. Most drivers today are independent contractors which, by law, can not be unionized.

According to the ATA, the amicus briefs largely support its own argument that the district court erred in declaring the concession requirements to be legal because the port was acting not as a government regulator but rather as a private market participant. The Port of Los Angeles argues that it should fall under the market participant exception to federal preemption law. The federal government in most instances reserves the right to regulate interstate commerce. State and local entities are therefore pre-empted by the federal government.

The supporting briefs also argue that the independent owner-operators would be forced out of business by the concession requirements. The port's plan would stifle trucking competition in the harbor and would reshape the harbor drayage regime that has existed since trucking was deregulated in 1980, according to the filing parties.

The Port of Los Angeles will file its response brief by Jan. 31, and ATA will then have until Feb. 14 to file its reply brief. After that, the 9th Circuit will set a hearing date.

-- Contact Bill Mongelluzzo at bmongelluzzo@joc.com.