“Bottom feeders” and Crumbs
“Bottom feeders” is how the elite refers to them. Such insolence! Truckers are looked upon as scum by those in charge of port operations. They’re receiving what amounts to crumbs and leavins’ from the elite; they’re being blamed for all that’s wrong in a system in which they’ve never had a say; they’re about to be dismissed by irresponsible and inconsiderate nincompoops who’ve turned the LA/Long Beach waterfront into a massive and ugly junk yard; and now they’re being told to shape up or ship out.
These downtrodden truckers net about $ 12 an hour … a pay level established by folks making almost ten times that much … and the schemes now being bandied about by those in authority are primarily concerned with imposing impossible demands on those underpaid truckers … upgrade or replace your polluting vehicles, or get out.
With the amount of compensation made available to them over the years, these truckers can barely afford the baling wire they’ve been using. What will be asked of them when the “Clean Truck Program” is finally agreed upon and promulgated is utterly preposterous, but the unforeseen end result will be just what Southern California communities need.
A wholesale collapse is inevitable, thanks to those whose greed far surpasses their IQs. The operations in both ports will come to a standstill because the “bottom feeders”… the most important link in the supply chain … will be forcefully dismissed. The amount of money required to put the fantasized drayage system in place, however, isn’t available. Neither is the time nor the manpower.
Fortunately for all, carriers and terminal operators will lose no time in abandoning the hopeless mess and establishing new container ports at other sites. It’s happening now, just as Secretary Mineta was predicting a number of years ago. Too bad the transition couldn’t have been made when it was more affordable to do so. The impending explosion and costly cleanup in Southern California will hit everyone where it hurts the most … in the wallet. But that’s the price we pay for being stupid.
A union would have been nice. Truckers would have had the kind of clout the longshoremen now enjoy and the “shape up or ship out” threat would then have emanated from the union’s side of the table. Michael Belzer was warning terminal operators about this back in February of 2000. He cited the low wages, long hours, unsafe working conditions and the rise (even back then) in fuel costs, and he pointed out that because harbor drivers are paid by the trip and not by the hour, and because of the unpaid time these drivers spend waiting at congested terminals, many are leaving the industry and causing a driver shortage in major seaports.
“You have conditions that I believe can be characterized as sweatshops,” he said. If the problem is not resolved soon, you won’t have to worry about gridlock because there won’t be any trucks on the road … I can’t comprehend why people don’t respond to this as a national crisis.”
But the elite pretended they didn’t hear him. [Speaking of crumbs …]