June 27, 2019

Hahn Seeks Economic Analysis of Port Automation’s Impact on Local Economy

Los Angeles, CA— Today, the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a proposal by Supervisor Janice Hahn to study the potential economic impact of automation at the Port of Los Angeles.

“Too often we take the good paying jobs that our ports provide for granted,” said Supervisor Janice Hahn. “But we should be very worried about whether we are seeing the beginning of a larger move toward automation at our ports and in industries across the region and what that could mean for the future of good jobs in our communities.”

Last week, the Los Angeles Harbor Commission approved a permit that would allow the introduction of driverless cargo handlers in the APM Terminal at the Port of Los Angeles. This action is expected to result in significant job loss. Supervisor Hahn has opposed this proposal and wrote a letter to the Commission citing her concerns about potential job losses associated with a move toward automation and the ripple effect job losses at the port could have on the larger economy.

“Port jobs don’t just support port families,” said Supervisor Hahn. “They in turn support grocery stores, sandwich shops, dry cleaners, and innumerable other businesses in and around the Harbor Area.  Automation is a threat to these jobs and therefore a threat to our community’s larger economic well-being. We need a better understanding of the potential impact that automation at our ports and automation more generally in other local businesses could have on the future of good-paying jobs in LA County.”

Ray Familathe, the President of ILWU Local 13, stressed the importance of ILWU jobs to the local economy saying that a recent report said that the incomes of ILWU members are 85% higher than the median income of local residents.

“I am scared because my husband works at the docks and I don’t know how we could possibly afford our mortgage if he lost his job today,” said Shannon Ross, a San Pedro resident who testified at the meeting. “Our community is right to be scared. These jobs are important to everyone. Not just the union members – our entire community will be egregiously impacted.”

The Board of Supervisors unanimously passed a motion today that does two things. First, instructs the County to conduct an economic analysis of the potential impact that automation at our ports would have on jobs and the local economy.  Second, the Board will send a five-signature letter to the Mayor of Los Angeles and the Los Angeles City Council supporting the ILWU’s efforts to oppose automation plans and protect local jobs.

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