“We need TWIC (Transportation Worker Identification Credential) for security,” says Bill Madden, general manager for terminal services at Long Beach Container Terminal Inc. “But it will cause a big dislocation. The truckers are the guys who make this place work.”
Every now and then someone says something that makes sense, and Mr. Madden deserves a pat on the back for telling it like it is. His statement appeared in Miriam Jordan’s Wall Street Journal article, which began with the headline, “Port security plan could slow deliveries, thin ranks of low-wage workers”.
Did you take note of the contradiction? … those “low-wage workers” are the same “guys who make this place work”. Sounds like they should be placed on a pedestal. Right? Wrong.
Ms. Jordan’s story later reveals that Kristin Monaco, a professor at California State University, Long Beach, conducted a study and found that port truckers in Los Angeles-Long beach earned a median $ 25,000 a year after expenses. Peanuts. Bob Curry, president of California Cartage Co., a privately held Southern California port-logistics company, estimates that the turnover among the drivers who work the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex is about 60 percent each year. Small wonder.
By comparison, the study showed, unionized longshoremen who unload containerized cargo from incoming vessels each make about $ 110,000.
Here’s a real comparison though. Last week, in the SEATTLE POST- INTELLIGENCER, Kristen Millares Bolt published the salaries of a number of U.S. port directors, and the salaries of the port directors of Seattle, Los Angeles, Oakland, New York, and Boston … to cite just a few … averaged out to $ 263,721 … an amount more than ten times what “low-wage workers” get. That’s right … the “low-wage workers … the guys who make this place work”.
[And have you read anywhere that the port directors with their quarter-million dollar salaries are the “guys who make this place work”? We haven’t.]
More than two years ago we were hearing about the unequal treatment given to port truck drivers:
• “The current economic model with drivers is probably not sustainable. Truckers are making practically nothing compared to the ILA and ILWU.” — Paul Heylman
• “Low wages, long hours, piece work and unsafe working conditions. You have working conditions that I believe can be characterized as sweatshops.” — Professor Michael Belzer
• “Conditions are so bad that the turnover rate among these port drivers exceeds 150 percent as they cycle in and out of the industry.” — Chuck Mack
• “I cannot comprehend why people don’t respond to this as a national crisis.” — Professor Michael Belzer.
[An old friend of ours used to say, “What goes around, comes around.” And he was always right.]