Trucking industry leaders urged California to declare the port backlog crisis a State of Emergency on Thursday in order to get regulatory relief for the trucking and shipping industries, as well as assist in ending the backlog sooner.
Action from the state and federal level aimed at relieving the crisis had been announced in the last few weeks following the news that over 100 containers were now waiting to unload at both the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The Biden administration made both ports go on a 24/7 cycle in order to receive more ships last week, while Governor Newsom signed an Executive Order on Wednesday opening the ports up to greater improvements and more short-term cargo storage areas, with truckers getting new routes and the removal of weight regulations in order to bring more trucks in.
However, despite those strides, experts have said that it still is not enough and that a State of Emergency is now needed.
“Labor shortages along the supply chain, including in trucking, contributed to a perfect storm hitting ports.” said California Trucking Association (CTA) CEO Shawn Yadon late Wednesday in a statement. “I think we are in a situation in California where a state of emergency related to the ports is certainly something that should be considered. The CTA joined with well over a dozen other business organizations and associations in California seeking that type of regulatory relief.”
Others seconded Yadon on Thursday.
A growing movement in favor of a state of emergency
“Right now everyone is focusing on one aspect of this and not the bigger picture,” added George Pinsky, a Cleveland based shipping consultant, to the Globe. “You can’t just focus on trucking, on shipping, on air freight, on rail. Everything needs to work together here. For truckers, we need a a lot more because we’re about 80,000 short right now. So that means making long-haul trucking looking better to newer generations who don’t want to do that, so that means more money for better wages and generous amounts of time off similar to airline pilots. This isn’t like the late 70’s when everyone wanted to have a CB radio and be a trucker. And that’s not even getting into the driverless vehicle s that are coming more widespread soon.
“We need to boost train freight too, so that means freight expansion there because not everything can be trucked across country simply due to the volume. Ditto for air freight, which is usually the more expensive option. And shipping, we need to modernize ports and make things more automated. If that means less stevedores, it means we may have to do it, but a lot of other jobs will open up in the ports, and especially through short and long haul trucking, because of it. So that also means greater jobs services for all the transitions. This is what I mean about bigger picture.”
“This is why we need a state of emergency declared now. We need to not only fix this in the short-term, but ensure this won’t happen again in the long-term. You can blame this on COVID if you want, but all it really did was expose the problems in the system at an accelerated rate. Freight was held back for months, then it all came at once in a vengeance, and we were not prepared despite knowing that this would happen for over a year.”
As of Thursday, Governor Newsom nor any lawmakers have said anything about a Shipping state of emergency. The latest state of emergency change occurred earlier this week when Governor Newsom extended a drought state of emergency to cover the entire state instead of select Northern and Central Californian counties.
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