FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: August 30, 2007
CONTACT: Barb Maynard, 213-387-0780
Ports’ Clean Trucks Program Will Deliver Major Benefits, Shared Prosperity to Regional Economy
Los Angeles— A new report estimates the San Pedro Ports’ proposed Clean Trucks Program will generate $4.2 billion in benefits to the harbor region over the next five years. The study by the Los Angeles Economy for a New Alliance (LAANE) comes less than a month before the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are scheduled to vote on the emissions-reduction program, which would overhaul the region’s port trucking system to meet new clean-air requirements.
The Road to Shared Prosperity: The Regional Economic Benefits of the San Pedro Bay Ports’ Clean Trucks Program calculates the combined economic impacts that would occur under the program from increased driver compensation, reduced public expenditures for drivers’ medical expenses, and savings from the health impacts associated with toxic emissions. Drivers and their families, local communities, taxpayers and businesses located near the ports would all benefit significantly from implementation of the plan.
The largest benefit would result from reduced health impacts, with a benefit of an estimated $2.2 billion in the first five years. Another $1.8 billion gain would come from the higher wages that drivers, who are now misclassified as independent contractors, would earn as employees, and from a shift in their tax burden. Reductions in public expenditures for health care for uninsured drivers would yield an additional $225 million in savings.
The report also finds that port truck drivers are concentrated in high-poverty areas, and that increased wages would give these communities a much-needed economic boost.
“Not only does the Clean Trucks Program address the Ports’ clean air goals, but it would inject hundreds of millions of dollars into low-income communities, save taxpayers additional millions of dollars and achieve long-sought after health improvements,” says the study.
The current port trucking system threatens the Ports’ ability to expand and has been widely criticized for contributing to an environmental and public health crisis, because it saddles the 16,800 truck drivers who service the ports with low wages, poor health benefits and grueling, dangerous working conditions. Eighty-eight percent of the 16,800 port truck drivers are independent contractors, a system that offers trucking companies little incentive to take responsibility for placing cleaner trucks on the road and allows them to evade responsibility for Social Security, unemployment insurance and workers’ compensation.
With median net incomes of $29,000, this underpaid workforce cannot afford to buy or maintain newer, more environmentally friendly trucks. Only 10 percent of the drivers have any health insurance, while just five percent have any retirement benefits. At least half of all independent contractor drivers qualify for welfare and other programs. The average driver is eligible for more than $18,000 a year in government assistance.
In April, the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach announced the Clean Trucks Program, which is a central component of their Clean Air Action Plan. Under the program, only licensed concessionaires who meet contractual standards will be allowed to operate as motor carriers at the two ports. The standards include stringent requirements for phasing in 16,800 environmentally clean trucks and a requirement that all licensed concessionaires utilize employee drivers.
The program has received broad support from environmental, public health, community, religious, labor, and immigrant rights groups. However, the trucking industry and other business interests have vigorously fought the program, prompting many stakeholders to view their opposition as a failure to seize an historic opportunity.
“The combined benefits of a successful Clean Trucks Program for business, labor and local communities promise broadened political support for this industry and could augur generations of support for one of the most dynamic new sectors in Southern California’s economy,” said Professor Manuel Pastor, an economist and Director of the Program for Environmental and Regional Equity of the Center for Sustainable Cities at the University of Southern California.
The report, The Road to Shared Prosperity: The Regional Economic Benefits of the San Pedro Bay Ports’ Clean Trucks Program, is available at www.laane.org
LAANE is a nonprofit organization that has issued numerous reports on poverty, employment and economic development. The report was produced at the request of the Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports, of which LAANE is a member