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 With infrastructure investment high on national agenda, call for reforms to bring ports into modern era. While rebuilding America’s infrastructure is high on the national agenda, there are few specifics on priority investments nor is there consensus on how to pay for these investments. Still, many would agree that ports are key pieces of our nation’s economic infrastructure. At a recent International Transportation Forum, the administrator for ports and shipping at the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development called for a new wave of port reforms in order to address the new patterns – and potentially soon to be dramatically altered – of trade. Questions were raised about the ability of the landlord-port model to provide the necessary value to communities surrounding ports in an age of increased automation, decrease in the number of jobs for surrounding residents, while congestion and air pollution from truck traffic servicing mega-ships continues to spike during peak times.

A case in point is the piecemeal approach most ports have taken. Most recently, Global Container Services, which is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan, announced it will implement a truck appointment system at its Bayonne, New Jersey terminal in an attempt to address congestion from long truck lines that que outside of terminal gates clogging streets in surrounding neighborhoods. Not only is this is the only terminal at the Ports of New York and New Jersey to implement this system, but the trucking community has serious reservations about the efficacy of appointment systems. And when ocean carriers restructure their carrier alliance on April 1, ports will face additional unprecedented operational challenges. Landlord ports clearly need to step up and develop a more proactive approach in balancing infrastructure needs, improving efficiency as supply chain modes change, and the impact on jobs and surrounding communities. Not doing so could open ports up to an increase in litigation and backlash from impacted residents.


Demand for truck driver re-classification continues as major retailer – Menards – faces complaint from NLRB for wrongly classifying drivers as contractors. One of the most inefficient modes of port infrastructure has been the drayage industry’s undercapitalization and fragmentation due to its pursuit of non-asset-based business model. The status quo has shifted over the past few years with stepped-up enforcement of federal and state labor laws. The latest driver classification battle hit a major retailer.

Right after Christmas, home improvement retailer Menards was slapped with a federal complaint from the NLRB alleging that over a thousand home delivery truck drivers at its 280 stores in 14 states have been misclassified as independent contractors, instead of employees. The NLRB complaint also charges that Menards violated the National Labor Relations Act by requiring drivers to waive their rights to class-action lawsuits.