- Owner-operator protests against California’s AB5 labor law slowed — and, in at least one case, halted — operations at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach earlier this month, officials confirmed.
- Picketing drivers prompted the mid-afternoon closure of a terminal at the Port of Long Beach on July 13, before the terminal reopened for the 6 p.m. night shift, Noel Hacegaba, deputy executive director of administration and operations, said in an emailed statement to Transport Dive.
- Port of Los Angeles spokesperson Phillip Sanfield said in an email that truckers intermittently slowed traffic at the port's gates as a convoy of about 100 trucks moved through the San Pedro Bay port complex.
The protests at the nation’s largest port complex, which occurred even before protests in Oakland shut down operations, sought to secure an exemption from AB5, a California labor law that owner-operators say will make it harder to transport goods.
“Our goal is to get exempted from [AB5], to get carved out from it, just like other industries,” Cindy Perez, a Long Beach owner-operator, said on July 14. “And if we’re not, we at least want to know why.”
Following an unsuccessful Supreme Court challenge, California is now poised to enforce AB5. The law seeks to eliminate worker misclassification and expand employee benefits, but would require tens of thousands of owner-operators to be reclassified as employees.
Total Terminals International was the only Port of Long Beach terminal to close gates early during the picketing on July 13 and 14, but protests also took place outside others, according to a port spokesperson.
“We understand the concerns of the trucking industry and goods movement community in general surrounding the requirements of AB5,” Hacegaba said in the statement. “We are working closely with our trucking stakeholders to discuss their concerns and will monitor the issue as AB5 is implemented.”
Protests — and looming enforcement of AB5 — already have shippers on high alert. Some 70,000 owner-operators haul freight in California, according to the California Trucking Association.
Paul Brashier, vice president of drayage and intermodal services at ITS Logistics, said clients have already begun inquiring about rerouting cargo to ports outside of California to avoid any issues stemming from AB5 enforcement.
“There’s a lot of shippers that are scared … of the unknown, just like the drivers are,” Brashier said. “They're making decisions based on what's going on with AB5.”
Correction: A previous version of this story misspelled Paul Brashier’s last name.