A truck driver who frequents the Port of Long Beach in southern California says that the backups at the port feel like ‘Walmart on Black Friday with only one cashier,’ leaving truckers frustrated.
Ryan Johnson, a Teamster driver, says that he works at the ports every day, and every day, especially in recent days, is a headache for truck drivers. According to Johnson, the largest cause of the backlog is a lack of cranes and crane operators – the port has only one crane for every 50 to 100 trucks, reported Business Insider.
“Think of going to the port as going to WalMart on Black Friday, but imagine only ONE cashier for thousands of customers,” Johnson wrote in an online piece. “Think about the lines. Except at a port, there are at least THREE lines to get a container in or out. … For each of these lines the wait time is a minimum of an hour, and I’ve waited up to 8 hours in the first line just to get into the port.”
These lines make it difficult for owner operators, who only get paid when a load has been delivered, to make a profit. This means that there is little to no incentive for these drivers to pick up loads from the ports, worsening the backlog.
“How do you convince truckers to work when their pay isn’t guaranteed, even to the point where they lose money?” wrote Johnson.
“They pay for all their own repairs and fuel, and all truck related expenses,” Johnson said. “I honestly don’t understand how many of them can even afford to show up for work. There’s no guarantee of ANY wage (not even minimum wage), and in many cases, these drivers make far below minimum wage. In some cases they work 70 hour weeks and still end up owing money to their carrier.”
While the administration has seemingly attempted to fix the problem with expanded port hours, those in the know, like Johnson, say it’s going to take a lot more than that to catch up.
“They are blowing smoke, and they know it,” he wrote. “What it will truly take to fix this problem is to run EVERYTHING 24/7: ports (both coastal and domestic), trucks, and warehouses. We need tens of thousands more chassis, and a much greater capacity in trucking.”