Crane operators who belong to a powerful union and earn up to $250,000 a year transferring containers from ships to trucks are worsening the supply chain crisis by goofing off on the job, frustrated truckers told reporters.
The finger-pointing at the busy Los Angeles County ports comes as scores of container ships are anchored off the California coast, waiting in some cases for weeks to unload their freight. The Biden administration has scrambled to get shipping executives, port officials, and labor to tackle the problem. While the reasons for the burgeoning backlog are complex, truck drivers say not everyone seems to be working together.
“In 15 years of doing this job, I’ve never seen them work slower,” said Antonio, who has spent hours waiting at Los Angeles County ports for cargo to be loaded. “The crane operators take their time, like three to four hours to get just one container. You can’t say anything to them, or they will just go [help] someone else.”
The Washington Examiner spoke to six truck drivers near the Long Beach/Terminal Island entry route, and each described crane operators as lazy, prone to long lunches, and quick to retaliate against complaints. The allegations were backed up by a labor consultant who has worked on the waterfront for 40 years. None of the truckers interviewed for this story wanted to provide a last name because they fear reprisals at the ports.
The crane operators are part of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union. Veteran operators who have a set schedule make $65 an hour and are paid for up to 4,000 hours per year, which include hours they don’t actually work —approximately $250,000 a year, according to labor consultant Jim Tessier, who represents longshoremen in disputes against the union.
“What you are talking about is perfectly described behavior,” Tessier said of the crane operators. “This is all a reflection of the management they have down there, the inmates run the asylum. The managers are all afraid to say anything because the operators are so powerful they get management fired if they don’t like them.”
Most truckers are independent contractors who are paid per container delivery and make a fraction of a crane operator’s salary. They only arrive at the docks after receiving notification that the cargo is ready for pickup. Waiting hours for shipping containers to be loaded onto their trucks is frustrating, and those who have complained were swiftly dealt with, they say.
“They’ll go get the police and kick you out and tell you to leave,” said trucker Chris. “Then, you get banned from coming back in there.”
Source: Washington Examiner