Members of the collective of non-union drivers distributed flyers last week that called for a one-day walkout, as well as attendance at a meeting scheduled for today at 11:30 a.m. Pacific Time by the Northwest Seaport Alliance (NWSA), the joint maritime operating partnership between the two ports.
On the agenda is whether to adopt the proposed Clean Truck Program, which would contractually obligate the operators of the marine terminals at both ports - ITS, Ports America, Everport and Washington United Terminals - to limit truck entries to trucks with engines 2007 or newer, or that have equivalent emissions controls as certified by either the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency or California Air Resources Board.
The proposed action would also allow for a grace period until April 1, which is 90 days after a previously approved Jan. 1, 2018 deadline that was devised as part of the Northwest Ports Clean Air Strategy (NPCAS).
The NPCAS was developed back in 2007 by the ports of Seattle and Tacoma, in conjunction with the Port of Vancouver USA.
In addition to the proposed 90-day grace period, today’s agenda includes provisions for a temporary deferral program, with the deadline for the program being the end of this year.
Under the program, provided that certain milestones are met, drivers in the process of buying newer trucks would continue to have terminal access to both harbors until Dec. 31, 2018. This will give operators additional time to procure financing and secure a compliant truck with an engine year 2007 or newer, the NWSA said.
Overall, independent drivers have argued that as non-employees who are required to pay for work-related expenses out of pocket, they cannot afford the new trucks or retrofitting required under the Clean Truck Program.
Currently, only 53 percent of the 4,500 trucks registered to serve the ports meet the 2007 federal emission standards, according to NWSA data. An estimated 80 percent of the drivers going in and out of the ports are independent owner-operators.