Today’s Pickup: L.A. council to explore port ban on carriers using contractors

Good day,

The never-ending story of whether port truckers should be contractors or employees is facing a new battlefront as two councilmen for the city of Los Angeles have introduced a bill that would bar trucking companies from serving the ports if they use independent contractors.

It is unsure whether the city council has the authority to do so, according to a Daily Breeze article, but they seem intent on trying.  

“The city of Los Angeles must ensure that all workers who contribute to the operations at the Port of Los Angeles be afforded a safe work environment, fair wages, and guaranteed rights and benefits,” the motion by Councilmen Joe Buscaino and Bob Blumenfield reads.

According to the motion, the councilors believe independent contractors are not afforded the same level of protections that employees are. This includes minimum pay scales and health benefits as well as equipment and maintenance costs.

“The motion would instruct city staff to review the conditions of the leases of any trucking or warehousing companies operating at the port and report on the feasibility of denying access to companies that are in violation of labor or employment laws,” the paper reported.

According to the Daily Breeze, more than 1,150 truck drivers have filed claims in court or with the California Department of Industrial Relations over driver treatment. The paper notes that in 97% of the cases that are heard, the court has sided with the drivers.

In 2008, the 9th Circuit Court struck down a provision in the Clean Truck Program that would have included an employee mandate.

 Did you know?

 Spot rates in September reached a nearly 3-year high, climbing 9% over August and 74% over September 2016, DAT reported. The national van rate for the month was $1.97 per mile. Reefers finished at $2.23 per mile and flatbeds at $2.26 per mile.


“Based on patterns from the last three years, we expect higher demand for truckload capacity to continue at least through December, with the movement of holiday-related e-commerce freight and the onset of the federal electronic logging device mandate. Demand may recede in February, which is normally a slack period, but we expect rates to remain somewhat higher than in previous years.”

Mark Montague, DAT industry analyst

In other news:

Concern grows over NAFTA collapse

The fourth round of NAFTA talks wrap up today and according to reports, there is a growing divide among negotiators that puts the future of the trade deal in doubt. (Wall Street Journal)

Diesel prices rise again

Diesel fuel prices rose again last week, continuing a recent trend as the price of oil rises. The national average for a gallon of diesel was up 1.1 cents to $2.787 last week. (Transport Topics)

August is record month for for-hire freight movement

The U.S. Department of Transportation reported that August was a record movement for the amount of freight moved by U.S. for-hire trucking companies, increasing 1.5% in August. (Heavy Duty Trucking)

Daimler shows autonomous truck capability

Daimler showed off the autonomous capabilities of its Mercedes-Benz Arocs trucks with a new video. The company envisions them being used to clear snow from runways. (TechCrunch)

Cummins acquires electric drive maker

Cummins has acquired Brammo, a company known for its high-performance motorcycles, but also one that is now producing electric drivetrains and battery packs. (Portland Business Journal)

Final Thoughts

Spot rates continue to rise, with DAT reporting a nearly 3-year high for September at $1.97 per mile for dry vans. With a strong holiday season expected and the upcoming ELD mandate expected to tighten capacity, it’s likely this won’t be the last time we are reporting on spot rates rising.

Hammer down everyone!

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Brian Straight

Brian Straight covers general transportation news and leads the editorial team as Managing Editor. A journalism graduate of the University of Rhode Island, he has covered everything from a presidential election, to professional sports and Little League baseball, and for more than 10 years has covered trucking and logistics. Before joining FreightWaves, he was previously responsible for the editorial quality and production of Fleet Owner magazine and Brian lives in Connecticut with his wife and two kids and spends his time coaching his son’s baseball team, golfing with his daughter, and pursuing his never-ending quest to become a professional bowler.