A group of truck drivers, most of them owner-operators, spent the day yesterday protesting at the Port of Baltimore and they plan to be on site again on today. Their complaint is that they routinely wait for hours to pick up containers and that Ports America Chesapeake, which manages Seagirt Marine Terminal under a 50-year agreement signed in 2009 with the Maryland Port Administration, couldn’t care less.
According to an article in the Baltimore Sun, this week’s protest is the third since 2019 for the truckers. The long waits, sometimes up to eight hours long, are a big problem for drivers who are not paid by the hour.
“I love my job. I got my own truck two years ago. I love what I do … but one thing about my job that I hate is coming here. I hate this place,” said John Richardson-Allaire, owner of Turnpike LLC. “We’re the only ones asked to work for free.
“We get paid by the box,” he notes, so delays directly affect their livelihood.
The protestors say that cargo ships are unloaded by the terminal operator as quickly as possible to avoid charges from carriers, but there is no urgency to move the containers once they get to the yard.
Protestor Kirt Elsey said: “If Ports America would hire more people to work the yards, we’d be in and out. They’re deliberately doing it to save money.”
In a statement issued on August 8, Ports America Chesapeake blamed “an overwhelmed supply chain” for terminal dwell issues and said it is “working diligently to provide the trucking community prompt and efficient service.” It stressed that “dwell time issues are a factor of import containers not being moved to off dock facilities for several factors unrelated to terminal operations – including full distribution centres and an over inventory of consumer products.”