California trucking association supports port security measures

Published 4 May 2006

It was unclear for a while whether California trucking association would support background checks on the more 12,000 drivers who come in and out of the sprawling twin ports of Los Anegeles and Long Beach; the trucking association ow say it is for it

Here is a challenge facing those in charge of security at the huge, sprawling twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach: Nearly 12,000 truckers pick up and deliver cargo there and, except for low-tech driver’s licenses, nobody really knows who they are. This is about to change.

The question was how cooperative the truckers would be about tightening identification policies. The drivers are mostly independent operators working for bare-minimum fees in almost impossible traffic. It would not take much to put many of them out of business. Nonetheless, California Truckers Association officials say they will support plans by the federal government to impose tighter security measures. Steve Stallone, spokesman for the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, says the union also will not oppose the plan, although it sounds like harassment to him.

The most important change at the heart of the port security program will be background checks on truckers and port employees, and providing them with ID cards more secure than driver’s licenses. Under the new plan, identities of 400,000 employees who work in sensitive areas of the ports will be compared against terrorist watch lists and immigration data bases. They, as well as truck drivers and rail workers, 750,000 in all, then will get tamper-resistant identification cards within the next few months. The policy does not call for checking individuals’ criminal background.