Truckers protest state law with convoy slow-down at LA-LB port complex
A group of truckers protesting a state law limiting the use of independent-contractor drivers held a convoy protest through the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex area Wednesday, snarling traffic on multiple freeways.
The truckers drove slowly over the Vincent Thomas Bridge between Long Beach and San Pedro Wednesday morning, then made their way north on the Harbor (110) Freeway, then ultimately moved southbound on the Long Beach (710) Freeway.
The convoy of dozens of trucks dramatically slowed traffic on the northbound 110, but the route remained open. As the convoy moved south on the 710, drivers fanned out across all lanes, bringing traffic to a crawl, and briefly to a full stop.
Meanwhile, some drivers carrying signs marched at an entrance to the port complex.
The convoy was part of what is believed to be an anticipated 24-hour work stoppage.
While traffic was being heavily affected, there was no reported issue with operations at the port complex.
“At this point there is no disruption of terminal activity,” according to a statement from the Port of Los Angeles. “Los Angeles Port Police will assist in making sure all parties are able to express their First Amendment rights while also making sure the port continues to operate safely and commerce continues to flow.”
Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port of Los Angeles, added that the port had planned ahead for the protest.
“These drivers have a view to put out there,” Seroka said in a news conference. “We planned for this days ahead to make sure that these protests were peaceful, organized. We gave them the depth, the breadth, the space they needed to voice their opinion, but kept this cargo moving through the port complex. And these drivers are very respectful to just that. I applaud them for coming out here today.”
Mario Cordero, executive director of the Port of Long Beach, said all terminals and roadways in the harbor remained open.
“Our Harbor Patrol is working to ensure the safety and First Amendment rights of all concerned,” Cordero said in a statement. “We are aware of the issues surrounding the requirements of AB5, and we are working with our drayage partners and other stakeholders to ensure that goods can be delivered safely and quickly through the supply chain.”
The action came two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear an appeal by the California Trucking Association challenging a state law — known as AB5 — that limits companies’ use of independent contractors in favor of treating them as employees.
The issue has been hotly debated in various segments of the trucking and delivery industries, and among “gig” workers such as Uber and Lyft drivers.
The law is aimed at ensuring workers receive fair wages and other employment benefits. Many companies opposed the law, noting the increased expense. Some workers also opposed it, saying they preferred the independence of being an outside contractor, allowing them to control their work hours.
Other workers, however, pushed for the law, saying they were being denied benefits by being classified as outside contractors.
Retired Gen. Stephen R. Lyons, the recently appointed port and supply chain envoy to the Biden-Harris Administration Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force, visited the Port of Los Angeles Wednesday and said the administration was assessing the impacts of AB5.
“The truckers are so critical to the supply chain,” Lyons said. “We (have) got to make sure we’re setting conditions to take care of them to the best of our ability.”