Los Angeles Business Journal

L.A. Port Won't Challenge Ruling on Employee Mandate

By James Rufus Koren Originally published October 6, 2011 at 4:24 p.m., updated October 7, 2011 at 9:59 a.m.

The Port of Los Angeles will not challenge a federal appeals court ruling that threw out a controversial part of the port’s Clean Truck Program.

At its meeting Thursday, the Los Angeles Harbor Commission decided not to fight last week’s ruling from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, which said the port cannot force trucking companies to hire their drivers.

The port could have appealed the ruling to the U.S. Supreme Court or asked 9th Circuit to review the case again.

The employee mandate, which was backed by labor groups, would have ended companies’ long-standing practice of contracting with independent truck drivers and made it possible for the Teamsters union to organize port truckers.

The American Trucking Association fought that part of the plan, as well as other provisions that gave the port the power to force companies to maintain trucks and ban non-compliant operators from the port. The 9th Circuit upheld all parts of the program except the employee mandate.

“We're pleased that most aspects of the Port of Los Angeles Clean Truck Program model have been upheld by the courts. Our program will assure safe, clean and more secure drayage for the long term,” said port Executive Director Geraldine Knatz in a statement released after the commission meeting.

The trucking association, which lauded the 9th Circuit’s decision on employee drivers but was not pleased with other elements of the decision, has not said whether it will continue to pursue appeals.

The Clean Truck Program requires companies to replace old trucks with new cleaner models. The trucks were subsidized, but the port had required truck companies to hire employees rather than contract with independent owner-operators. The port estimates that diesel emissions have been reduced by 80 percent as a result of the plan.