Wednesday, February 1, 2012

The Next Step to Reduce Pollution from the Port [UPDATED]

CoWNA has endorsed the New York State Commercial Goods Transportation Industry Fair Play Act (A8997), and I want to take a minute to explain why.

This bill would protect truck drivers—like the ones who work on the Red Hook port—from misclassification as independent contractors. For neighborhoods like ours, this is not only a moral concern. It's actually a serious public health hazard.

Trucking companies engage in misclassification in order to increase profits by shifting business costs onto their employees. So, misclassified truck drivers are made to shoulder the cost of buying and maintaining their own trucks. But in the ports of New York and New Jersey, drivers who are misclassified as independent contractors earn just $28,000 a year, on average. That means the ports are filled with old, highly polluting trucks—many of them as much as 18 years old!

The results are dirty air and an estimated 1,663 premature deaths, 1,444 non-fatal heart attacks, 59,871 childhood asthma attacks and 3,630 cases of acute childhood bronchitis a year.

It’s time to clean up the port trucking industry.

But on $28,000 a year, misclassified truck drivers cannot afford the cost of new clean trucks. Only trucking companies have the economic power to do what is needed. Yet they will avoid the responsibility as long as they can misclassify their drivers as independent contractors.

CoWNA has urged Assemblywoman Millman to add her name to A8997 as a cosponsor. When the bill is introduced in the State Senate, we’ll ask the same of Senator Squadron.

We’ll keep you posted with any news.

UPDATE: Whaddya know! There is a Senate bill--S6267. A note to Senator Squadron is on its way.

1 comment:

  1. The Minister said that environmental concerns should be borne in mind by all ports, in the public as well as private sectors, in adding to their capacities. The requisite mitigation measures should be taken and the latest technology should be used.