LA City Council Vetoes Automated Trucks At Port Of LA

LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – At a packed meeting, the Los Angeles City Council Friday vetoed a controversial permit which would have allowed for the use of automated driverless trucks at one of the Port of L.A.’s largest terminals.

The council unanimously vetoed an action by the L.A. Board of Harbor Commissioners, which last week authorized the Danish firm Maersk — the world’s biggest container shipping company and one of the major cargo operators at the port — to bring in several automated cargo carriers that move shipping containers between ships and trucks at its Pier 400 terminal.

The equipment would be used at the port operated by Maersk subsidiary APM Terminals.

Hundreds of union dockworkers have protested for months against the permit, arguing it will cost them their jobs.

Whether the council’s action will have any effect remains unclear, with shipping company officials saying they are contractually permitted to bring in automated equipment, regardless of a city permit.

Hundreds of dockworkers packed the council chamber Friday for the discussion. The dockworkers, represented by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13, chanted “no robots” outside City Hall prior to the council meeting.

The council’s vote sends the issue back to the Harbor Commission for further discussion. But APM officials appear poised to move ahead with the automated equipment anyway.

According to International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 13, which represents the dockworkers, tens of thousands of port employees acquire shift assignments each day, and those opportunities may be reduced between 500 to 700 per day.

According to its permit request, APM says it will spend $1.5 million to install “electric power vehicle charging stations, racking systems for electric power refrigerated containers, limited installation of antennae poles, and related power conduits that will allow the existing diesel-powered container handling equipment to be replaced with zero- and near zero-emissions yard equipment.”

The Port of L.A. has been the busiest container port in the U.S. since the year 2000.