California Businesses, Democrats Feud over Solutions to Cargo Crisis at Ports

In an aerial view, container ships are anchored by the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles
Mario Tama/Getty Images

California business coalitions and Democratic state legislators recently sent dueling letters to Gov. Gavin Newsom, arguing over proposed solutions to the cargo crisis that has clogged local ports and that is holding up supply chains nationwide.

On Oct. 19, the Sacramento Bee reported, a group of business associations wrote to Newsom, urging him to take nine steps:

1. Declare a State of Emergency at the ports and the associated transportation links to enable quick action to resolve bottlenecks as they arise;
2. Suspend implementation of AB 701 [preventing employers from enforcing work quotas that interfere with meals and bathroom breaks] until the supply chain has normalized and goods movement has been restored;
3. Suspend AB 5 [requiring independent contractors to become employees] and allow independent truckers to operate in and through California until the supply chain has normalized;
4. Provide flexibility on existing Air Resources and local port drayage truck regulations, and ensure upcoming deadlines on new regulations take into account delays in manufacturing and delivery of new trucks;
5. Suspend implementation of the Indirect Source Rule recently promulgated by the South Coast Air Quality Management District until the supply chain has normalized;
6. Suspend local and regional mandates that interfere or limit goods movement, including local prohibitions on unloading goods at stores after hours; and
7. Direct already appropriated state resources to clean up homeless encampments in and around goods movement corridors; and
8. Expedite the CEQA [California Environmental Quality Act] and permitting processes, including conditional use permits, for warehouses, rail line and other critical components of goods movement.

The Democrats responded with a letter of their own on Nov. 3, opposing calls to suspend labor and environmental rules, and blaming the cargo crisis on increased consumer demand and trucker shortages that, they said, predated the pandemic.

AB 5, the Bee notes, does not yet apply to truckers, because the law is being challenged in court, but businesses argue that the uncertainty about the law is enough to dissuade truckers from working, or from coming in to work from other states.

Gov. Newsom responded via a spokesman, according to the Bee: “Getting rid of bathroom breaks for warehouse workers, and suspending a regulation that doesn’t even apply to truckers, are not solutions.”

As Breitbart News reported, Newsom signed an executive order on Oct. 20 to address the cargo crisis:

Newsom’s order directs state agencies to “identify additional ways to alleviate congestion at California ports”; to “continue coordinating with the Biden-Harris Administration Supply Chain Disruptions Task Force”; and to consider long-term plans for better storage, transportation, and skills training. It also directs state agencies to “identify priority freight routes to be considered for a temporary exemption to current gross vehicle limits to allow for trucks to carry additional goods.”

Newsom disappeared from public view after Oct. 27; he canceled a trip to the COP26 climate change summit in Glasgow, Scotland, and was reported in attendance at the wedding of billionaire oil heiress Ivy Getty on Saturday in San Francisco.

Joel B. Pollak is Senior Editor-at-Large at Breitbart News and the host of Breitbart News Sunday on Sirius XM Patriot on Sunday evenings from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m. ET (4 p.m. to 7 p.m. PT). He is the author of the recent e-book, Neither Free nor Fair: The 2020 U.S. Presidential Election. His recent book, RED NOVEMBER, tells the story of the 2020 Democratic presidential primary from a conservative perspective. He is a winner of the 2018 Robert Novak Journalism Alumni Fellowship. Follow him on Twitter at @joelpollak.


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