SAN PEDRO (CBSLA) – Hundreds of union dockworkers with the Port of Los Angeles turned out for a protest Tuesday morning against the use of automated trucks at one of its terminals.
During a brief but packed meeting, the L.A. Board of Harbor Commissioners unanimously voted to table a decision on whether to approve a permit which would allow the Dutch company APM to use driverless cargo vehicles at its Pier 400 terminal.
The five-member board decided to delay the vote in response to a letter from L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti.
“At my invitation, the ILWU and APM terminals have met and are in talks regarding the proposed terminal project at Pier 400,” board president Jaime L. Lee read from Garcetti’s letter. “Throughout the discussions I lead at City Hall, I was encouraged by the leadership shown by both parties. Confronted by a complex set of negotiations which would benefit from more time, I ask that the board would recess today, and reconvene within 30 days to vote on the Coastal Development permit.”
The vote was followed with boos and jeers from the crowd as the approximately 5-minute meeting was quickly brought to an end.
Since APM requested the permit back in September of 2018, the issue has prompted several demonstrations from Port of L.A. dockworkers who fear the introduction of driverless vehicles at Pier 400 will begin a slippery slope that will lead to the loss of thousands of jobs at both the Port of L.A. and the Port of Long Beach.
A different terminal at the Port of L.A. and a second at the Port of Long Beach have already begun using driverless utility tractor rigs, according to the L.A. Times.
“This automation affects our livelihoods, the whole community, the neighborhoods, the businesses…it affects us all,” said ILWU Local 94 president Danny Miranda.
In its permit request, APM is asking permission to spend $1.5 million to install “electric power vehicle charging stations, racking systems for electric power refrigerated containers, limited installation of antennae poles, and related power conduits that will allow the existing diesel-powered container handling equipment to be replaced with zero- and near zero-emissions yard equipment.”
The Port of L.A. has been the busiest container port in the U.S. since the year 2000.