Productive, profitable and secure

Here’s a situation not covered by the books. On May 18th the Port of Miami Terminal Operating Company and the Teamsters Union and Support Trucking Group held a press conference to announce the terminal’s withdrawal of a lawsuit that was filed last summer against the driver’s group following a two-week trucker protest at the Port of Miami.

“As we finish the reconstruction of our terminal facilities to create quicker, more efficient turn times for the container trucks, we are pleased to announce a new structure to improve communications and more quickly resolve problems with the truckers,” declared Chris Morton, POMTOC Senior Manager. “We view the trucking industry as an essential partner.” The new structure being introduced by POMTOC included monthly meetings and a “Rapid Response Desk” for complaints filed by the trucking companies and drivers.

One couldn’t ask for a more amicable settlement than that, and the responsible gesture on the part of the port was duly acknowledged by the trucking group when, speaking on behalf of the Support Trucking Group, Eduardo Verdayes stated that, “Chris Morton assures us he will make trucking concerns a top priority. That’s important because our futures are inseparably bound together. Neither of us can succeed alone.”

Ron Carver, Assistant Director of the Teamsters Port Division, referred to this agreement as an important step forward. “The problems facing the trucking industry in Miami are similar to problems in ports throughout the country,” he said. “Motor carriers and owner-drivers are going bankrupt and leaving the port drayage business in ever increasing numbers. Today there is a national driver shortage and a turnover rate of 138 percent per year. Locally, the Port of Miami will only thrive if solutions can be found to make the road transport sector of the business productive, profitable and secure.”

The prevailing attitudes back in May indicated that a solution had indeed been found that would allow the port to thrive and would assure that the trucking industry would be productive, profitable and secure. The truckers agreed not to boycott again and POMTOC agreed that the truckers would have the right to organize and seek better working conditions. Neither side, however, is to blame for what has placed an oppressive burden on the shoulders of the trucking industry since then, and the truckers had no other way to bring their problem to the attention of those who could offer assistance. The May accord, after all, did grant them the right to seek better working conditions.

Escalating fuel prices have put their backs to the wall and, in protest, a convoy of about 200 trucks caused a traffic snarl in Miami’s business and commercial districts. The Port of Miami wasn’t the target, the organizers had stated, the aim of the protest was the federally mandated fuel charges, and unless relief is obtained from the federal government, the Port of Miami is not likely to thrive nor will the trucking industry be productive, profitable and secure. Yet neither side can be faulted. The scenario in Vancouver, you’ll note, had the same kind of a beginning.