Mayor Dellums Vows Oakland Will Be Next City to Pass a Comprehensive Clean Trucks Program

August 28, 2008 -- East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable...

With Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa at his side, Mayor Ron Dellums pledged to follow the L.A. Harbor’s example and fix the broken Oakland Port trucking system that is contributing to a public health crisis and forcing drivers to endure sweatshop working conditions.

"I want to take this public opportunity to say to you, Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, that you were first, but Oakland is going to be second, so don’t slow down,” said Mayor Dellums.“We must maintain the integrity of good jobs for our migrant truck drivers who need to have a real living -- not a false wage that continues to perpetuate poverty and pollution.”

The L.A. and Oakland Mayors kicked off a rally of thousands of port truck drivers, environmental and environmental justice advocates, union members, clergy, community activists, public health advocates, elected leaders and public officials who gathered in support of a comprehensive Clean Trucks Program.Mayor Dellums called on the Oakland Port Commission to adopt a plan similar to the landmark initiative recently signed into law in Los Angeles that will reduce emissions by 80 percent by ending the practice of hiring “independent contractors” and make the industry responsible for operating a clean truck fleet.

“This idea of good jobs and clean air, it is based in the values that make America great,” said Mayor Villaraigosa.

The demonstration, which was organized by the California Labor Federation, the Alameda Labor Council, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports was covered by nearly every major Bay Area media organization click here for a link to KTVU/Ch.2’s story.

The two mayors were joined onstage by State Treasurer Bill Lockyer who also strongly endorsed the Clean Trucks Program.At the conclusion of the speeches, a sea of demonstrators carrying blue and green “Good Jobs & Clean Air” signs marched down Washington Street through a “tunnel” of honking trucks to the Port Commission building where they heard speeches by Port Commissioners Margaret Gordon and Victor Uno, Attorney General Jerry Brown, Assemblymembers Loni Hancock and Sandré Swanson, Teamster General President James P. Hoffa, California Labor Federation Executive Secretary-Treasurer Art Pulaski and Alameda Labor Council Executive Secretary-Treasurer Sharon Cornu.

“Today, we stand together to demand clean air and good jobs, because we won’t get one without the other,” said Cornu. “This campaign is about the fundamental right of our families to decency, hope and opportunity.That’s why we stick together, and that’s why we’ll win.”

Also in attendance were representatives from the West Oakland Environmental Indicators Project, Pacific Institute, Natural Resources Defense Council, Oakland ACORN, Sierra Club, Interfaith Committee for Worker Justice, East Bay Alliance for a Sustainable Economy, The Workforce Collaborative, Coalition for Clean Air, Breathe California, Asian Pacific Environmental Network, Change to Win, International Longshore and Warehouse Union and other AFL-CIO unions and port drivers who are fighting for a greener port with better jobs.

“For far too long, we have suffered from the ill effects of port truck pollution.Cancer and asthma is devastating our community,” said Shirley Burnell, West Oakland Resident and ACORN member.“The Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports plan will lower public health risks associated with port truck pollution and bring economic opportunity to a neighborhood that has chronic high unemployment.”

Recognizing that dirty air was here to stay unless the economic conditions that led to the environmental crisis were reversed, the Port of Los Angeles adopted a comprehensive clean air plan in March. The Clean Trucks Program will reduce public health impacts, lift and enforce labor and environmental standards, and allow industry to grow and meet exploding trade demand. Port stakeholders have heralded it as the model to improve efficiency and catapult port trucking into the forefront of the green economy revolution.

The Oakland Port Commission is developing a similar Comprehensive Truck Management Plan, with a vote expected in the coming months. To ensure sustainability, the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports has urged the Port to follow L.A.’s lead and include the following key provisions in its plan:

  • Require trucking firms to become concessionaires to enforce environmental, community and labor standards;
  • End independent contracting to make the industry permanently responsible for clean trucks;
  • Reduce congestion by keeping trucks off residential streets;
  • Provide good jobs to local residents that protect their freedom to unite and bargain for better working conditions;
  • Provide small business assistance to local trucking companies in need.

“It’s important for the health of everybody, especially truck drivers,” said Salvador Ayala, a truck driver for more than 20 years.“We are the first ones to inhale the pollution.”

CCSP applauds Mayors Dellums and Villaraigosa, Commissioners Margaret Gordon and Victor Uno and the other elected leaders and public officials who participated in the rally for standing up in support of this life-saving initiative.

Teamsters President Hoffa Delivers Major Environmental Policy Address

Union opposes Arctic National Wildlife Refuge Oil Drilling

The day after the rally, members of the Los Angeles, Long Beach, Oakland, Seattle, New York/New Jersey and Miami coalitions participated in the first “Port Leadership Summit” to exchange information and ideas about how to establish comprehensive Clean Truck Programs at major U.S. ports.International Brotherhood of Teamsters President James P. Hoffa was asked to deliver the keynote speech, and he took the opportunity to make an important announcement that the Teamsters Union no longer supports oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge.

One of the positive outgrowths of the movement for good, green jobs at U.S. Ports is a stronger “blue-green alliance” of environmental organizations and labor unions.The movements have long shared many common goals, but they are now listening and learning from each other in ways they never have before.How did this come about?By environmentalists recognizing that in order for there to be green jobs, they must be good union jobs.And by labor taking the responsibility for falling into a trap set by big corporations that pitted us against each other.

President Hoffa recognized this “false divide” in his speech which he entitled “Greening the American Dream,” by saying:

“In the past, we were forced to make a false choice.The choice was:Good Jobs or a Clean Environment.We were told no pollution meant no jobs.If we wanted clean air, the economy would suffer and jobs would be sent overseas. Well guess what?We let the big corporations pollute and jobs went overseas anyway.We didn’t enforce environmental regulations and the economy still went in the toilet.The middle class got decimated and the environment is on the brink of disaster.Well I say enough is enough!  No more false divides.The future, if we are to prosper as a nation, will lie in a green economy.”

President Hoffa went a step further in announcing a major policy shift for the Teamsters Union stating that the Teamsters will no longer participate in the coalition supporting oil drilling in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge (ANWR).

“We are not going to drill our way out of the energy problems we are facing,” President Hoffa said.“We must find a long-term approach that breaks our dependence on foreign oil by investing in development of alternate energy sources like solar, wind and geothermal power.”

President Hoffa urged the strengthening of the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports and said that our future lies in a green economy which means creating good union jobs in America’s growing industries.

“We applaud the Teamsters for their bold vision of the future,” said Greg Haegele, Sierra Club Conservation Director.“We are proud to stand with them.We look forward to working to create green jobs and a clean energy economy together.”

Word of President Hoffa’s ANWR announcement and the Teamsters’ involvement in the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports made the rounds on the progressive blog circuit including Daily Kos, Huffington Post, and others and was then picked up by Washington Post columnistHarold Meyerson who wrote, “…the Teamsters and turtles are together today as they have not been since the 1999 anti-WTO demonstrations in Seattle.In a party now headed by an “and” guy, not an “or” guy, this comes as very welcome news.”

Port Leadership Summit participants found new ways to work together and committed to supporting one another’s campaigns across the country.They went back to their own communities energized by the March and Summit with a strong sense of purpose as to how to green America’s ports with good sustainable jobs.

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