Port officials will conduct an economic impact study on the plan that calls for cleaner emissions but also stipulates only employee drivers may operate port vehicles. Under the original plan, the rules would take effect on January 1, 2008.
Environmental groups declared their support for the provision that would shift the status of 16,000 port drivers from independent contractors to full port employees. The National Resources Defense Council and the Coalition for Clean Air urged the ports to require a "fast transition to a 100% employee workforce as an imperative that trucking companies be held accountable in a business environment that will enable the industry to meet the fleet modernization and air emissions goals for the San Pedro Bay."
The ports are preparing to spend hundreds of millions of tax dollars on new, clean trucks, said Rafael Pizarro, of the Coalition for Clean Air (CCA). "Right now the companies put all the responsibility on the drivers who can't afford the maintenance on the trucks," he said. In the CCA's argument, making the drivers employees will reverse the pollution problem.