- The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners voted unanimously yesterday to further delay a decision on a controversial automation project at the APM container terminal after receiving a letter from Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti asking for more time. Jaime Lee, president of the board, said the letter asking for the delay was received "earlier [Tuesday] morning" — the meeting began at 9 a.m. Tuesday.
- "Confronted by a complex set of negotiations which would benefit from more time, I ask that the Board recess today and reconvene within 30 days to vote on the Coastal Development Permit," Garcetti said in his letter. "During that time, I will continue to work with all parties to ensure the strength of our port."
- Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) Local 13 protested prior to the meeting, saying in an emailed press release they expected 2,000 people to march with them. Press reports put that number closer to 1,200. "Community, local business and union leaders are raising concerns that impacts on the community of San Pedro from automation and workers displacements have not been adequately considered," the union said before the meeting.
The vote before the board is whether to approve a permit for seaside development, which APM Terminals applied for late last year. The permit is required for the project's proximity to the coastal zone.
APM plans to bring in autonomous, electric cargo movers, install the necessary charging stations and antenna poles and upgrade the existing Wi-Fi network as part of the development project. ILWU Local 13 worries this kind of automation could result in job cuts, and members protested the permit approval in hopes of halting the project.
.@PortofLA and @portoflongbeach workers are protesting today against a vote that would automate port jobs and eliminate their jobs. @LAist @KPCC— Emily Elena Dugdale (@eedugdale) April 16, 2019
“They’re looking to get rid of us,” said Gary Herrera, @ILWU Vice President. “But today is a revolution.” pic.twitter.com/yCeBKCPn8n
Garcetti invited ILWU and APM Terminals to discussions he led at City Hall, he said in his letter. "Throughout the discussions I led at City Hall, I was encouraged by the leadership shown by both parties," he said. It is not clear what these discussions looked like or what concessions either side might be willing to make.
After the vote, Gary Herrera, ILWU vice president, said it was "another day we get to live," according to The Los Angeles Times.
Post meeting talk from ILWU vice president Gary Herrera saying that this is just another round in the match. He wants members to stay positive. pic.twitter.com/yxGxcxjRgz— Brittany Murray (@BrittanyMMurray) April 16, 2019
"We appreciate Mayor Garcetti’s leadership on this important matter," APM said in a statement emailed to Supply Chain Dive. "After months of delay, we look forward to working expeditiously through the process he’s outlined to make the port competitive."
This was the second time Garcetti asked for an extension on the vote. At a meeting last month, he asked the board to take 28 days to consider the vote further.
Even if the board approves the permit, it can be overturned by the City Council, and Councilman Joe Buscaino has said he will bring the issue before the council if it is approved by the board, according to The Los Angeles Times.
The board will reconvene for a vote within 30 days, but an exact date for this meeting has not been set, a spokesperson for the Port of Los Angeles told Supply Chain Dive in an email.