Robert Wells said he’s tired of being taken advantage of by terminal operators at the Port of New Orleans.
Wells, 55, was one of more than 100 independent trucking operators protesting for the second day outside the entrance to the port on Tuesday (June 23). The protesters say Ports America and New Orleans Terminal force them to shuttle damaged containers back and forth across port property for no extra pay. The process can cause delays of up to four hours, they said, and cost individual drivers as much as $300 a day in lost deliveries.
Gathered at the corner of Felicity and Tchoupitoulas streets, the men held signs reading “Honk if you care for a trucker” and “We are not begging, we’re trying to work not for free.” As policeman guided traffic, fellow truckers driving past laid on their horns in support.
A number of independent truckers met with the heads of Ports America and New Orleans Terminal on Thursday to address their concerns. According to Wells and others, they were told: “If you don’t want to move the containers, then don’t come back to the port.”
“We took their advice,” Wells said. “We hope to stay out here until they decide to fix the situation.”
In a statement, the port said its board of commissioners is “aware of concerns expressed by both the stevedores and the trucking community serving the container terminal and is proactively working with truck drivers, terminal operators and steamship lines to achieve further efficiencies.”
The photo below, posted on the NOLA Trucks Facebook page on June 2, shows trucks backed up at the Port of New Orleans. Protesters say such lines have become normal at the port in recent years.