Port of LA can’t require terminal operators to enter into certain “concession agreements” with drayage and trucking companies

Combined, the side-by-side ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles handle almost half of all the consumer goods shipped into the U.S.  This economic activity provides a hot bed for issues, from workers’ rights to environmental justice.  Within this climate, the Port of Los Angeles (“Port of LA”) implemented two provisions in the Clean Trucks Program, which were recently struck down by the U.S. Supreme Court: one is a placard for trucks to report environmental safety concerns, and the other is a plan for off-street parking.

Labor, environmental and community groups came together to work on the Clean Trucks Program, much of which survives this ruling.

In American Trucking Association, Inc. v. City of Los Angeles, the Supreme Court determined that portions of the Clean Trucks Program at the Port of LA were preempted by the Federal Aviation Administration Authorization Act of 1994 (“FAAAA”).  Specifically, the Court found that FAAAA expressly preempts—or takes precedence over—the concession agreements that the Port of LA required terminal operators to enter into with drayage and trucking companies.  The Court reached this decision, in part, because the penalties under the agreements included misdemeanors punishable by a fine up to $500 or a prison sentence of up to six months.

The Court did not decide at this time whether the Port of LA can enforce other provisions of the Clean Trucks Program, which are valid and enforceable (including financial capacity and truck maintenance requirements).  In all, this invalidates portions of the Clean Trucks Program but allows other portions to continue on.

The goal of the Clean Trucks Program is to provide environmental and safety protections around the Port of LA to support the Port’s long term growth plan.  This decision has no direct effect on workers, but it does increase the likelihood of continued use of independent contractor and less reputable trucking companies at the Port.

The decision also continues a trend in which the Supreme Court has found FAAAA invalidates state and local laws.

By Caren Sencer | June 24, 2013

Legal Developments