Port of New Orleans Offers Freebies to Truckers
In honor of National Trucker Appreciation Week (NTAW), the Port of New Orleans is doing their part to show truckers that they appreciate the hard work they do each day to keep our homes and businesses running smoothly. Coming on the heels of a resolved driver strike, the Port has chosen to acknowledge the importance of our nation’s truck drivers and the vital role they play in our economy with a week of activities.
This past Monday, drivers at the Clarence Henry Truckway entrance, a two lane road within the Port’s property, were given re-usable water bottles and re-usable trash receptacles, among other items, by volunteers helping with the event. Free donuts were passed out at the Port’s Nashville Avenue Circle Building Tuesday the 15th and will be again on Friday the 18th, from 7 to 9 a.m. On Wednesday the 16th, the port will serve up a hot lunch of jambalaya, burgers, hot dogs and drinks in the Nashville Avenue Circle Building from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m.
“The men and women who traverse our roads and highways carrying cargo work hard to deliver goods safely and on time,” said Port of New Orleans President and CEO Gary LaGrange. “We want to take this opportunity to thank them for the important part they play year round in moving the Port and the nation’s economy forward.” The Port of New Orleans, in the middle of Louisiana’s Lower Mississippi River, is one of the world’s busiest port systems and the drivers that work there keep operations running smoothly for the whole country.
Three months ago in June, the outskirts of the Port of New Orleans was the site of a protest by dozens of independent truckers, angry that long waits and port delivery delays were racking up losses of hundreds of dollars a day. Truckers also claim they were being forced to handle damaged shipping containers without any compensation. They state that they had to move the boxes to one location for inspection then another for storage, instead of leaving them in a spot near the unloading zone that was dedicated to handling damaged boxes, as they did before Hurricane Katrina. It was reported to take several hours out of their day, which were unpaid, and could cost them from $200 to $300 each day.
While port officials and trucking companies did acknowledge their hardships, they also stated it was the same story for port truckers all over the nation. “Senior Port staff facilitated discussions between terminal operators and truck drivers to focus on conveyance strategies to enhance the speed and velocity throughout the terminal,” a statement said. They also commented “about $40 million is being invested in terminal infrastructure to create efficiencies and expand capacity.”
After three days, an agreement was reached in which local trucking companies would start paying $40 for drivers to take damaged boxes to a facility on port property for repair. In addition, operators at New Orleans Terminals and Port America also agreed to help truckers have an easier time getting in and out of the port, partly due to implementing “one of the nation’s first fully-automated appointment systems for truckers using the terminal’s gate.”
In addition to the NTAW events, the Port’s Environmental Services Department launched a “Keep It Clean!” campaign to help stop trash and other debris from ending up in the Gulf Coast’s waterways. “In collaboration with the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Port tenants and community stakeholders, the Port of New Orleans is working to address the universal issue of trash, litter and debris and to prevent it from reaching our waterways,” said LaGrange. Giveaways for drivers and port workers include shirts, bumper stickers and other signage with the slogan “Your Port, Your Water: Keep it Clean” emblazed on them.