New setback for APMT's LA automation project

APM Terminals Los Angeles The debate over whether to grant APM Terminals a permit to automate the Port of Los Angeles' Pier 400 continues Credit: APM Terminals
Industry Database

The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners has for the second time delayed a decision on a strongly contested permit for APM Terminals to carry out modernisation work to introduce driverless electric cargo trucks at the Port of Los Angeles’ Pier 400.

In a letter to the Harbour Commission, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti requested the Commission postpone the vote so that he could have more time to negotiate a deal between APM Terminals and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which were represented at the meeting by 2,000 protestors concerned that jobs could be lost if the automation project is realised.

APM Terminals stated: “We appreciate Los Angeles Mayor Garcetti’s leadership on this important matter. After months of delay, we look forward to working expeditiously through the process he’s outlined to make the port competitive.”

The board first voted to postpone the permit to build landside infrastructure to operate driverless battery-electric powered equipment last month, after union officials opposed the plan. ILWU Local 13, which represents dock workers at APM, voiced its concern that introducing electric automated equipment would displace workers.

At this first voting meeting, Mr Garcetti also requested a 28-day consideration period and offered to mediate the dispute between APM Terminals, ILWU, and Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which was accepted by APM Terminals.

A 2008 International Longshore and Warehouse Union contract, renewed in 2015, explicitly allowed West Coast ports to continue automating.

By Rebecca Jeffrey

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