Explaining Southern California's economy

Los Angeles/Long Beach port truck drivers launch strike with no planned end

containers maersk ship port of los angeles long beach san pedro

Photo by Izabela Reimers via Flickr Creative Commons

Truck drivers for three companies that move cargo in and out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach launched a strike early Monday morning, with the support of organizers of the Teamsters union the drivers are hoping to join.

The strike involves 120 drivers for three transport firms including Total Transportation Services Inc., Green Fleet Systems and Pacific 9. The drivers have staged strikes and labor actions in the past year, but this is the first time they've walked off the job with no plans to return.

The drivers say the companies have become increasingly hostile to their efforts to organize and form a union. The companies, say the striking drivers, have retaliated by intimidating and even firing some drivers, as well as countersuing drivers who filed complaints. 

"Companies don't really like it when you fight for your rights," said 45-year-old Byron Contreras of Lakewood, who has worked for almost three years as a driver for Green Fleet Systems.  "We'll be out here as long as it takes," he told KPCC during a phone interview outside the LBCT Terminal at the Port of Long Beach. 


'Midnight Rider' indictment: Sarah Jones' death highlights safety on the set challenges

Safety For Sarah PSA Part 1

Admin.Sarah.PSA (via YouTube)

A YouTube video showing support for Sarah Jones, who was killed on the set of "Midnight Rider" by a train.

Prosecutors in Georgia have indicted the filmmakers of “Midnight Rider" on charges of involuntary manslaughter and criminal trespass in the death of Sarah Jones. The 27-year-old camera assistant was killed by an oncoming train in February, when she was preparing a scene on a railroad bridge. Six others were injured.

The tragedy has highlighted the motion picture industry's attempts and struggles to keep film locations safe for the people who work on them. It has rallied actors and below-the-line crew workers around a push for greater emphasis on location safety.

In a public service announcement launched earlier this week, actors Paul Dano, Heather Locklear and Jinhee Joung appear with makeup artists, directors of photography, production assistants and craft service workers.  All stare silently into the camera holding slate cards with messages like "We are all Sarah," "Safety for Sarah" and "Never forget. Never Again." The video has brought more traffic and expressions of support  to the "Slates for Sarah" Facebook page and Twitter feed.


What does California get in return for $100 million in film and TV tax credits?

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David McNew/Getty Images

The California Film Commission has selected 26 productions this year to share in the state’s $100-million film and TV tax credit program. They include 11 feature films, 13 TV series, and two made-for-TV movies. 

The winners were selected by a lottery from among 497 entrants.  

“As part of their application, they have to include a projection of how many crew they will hire, how many cast members they will hire, and how many background actors they will hire,” says Amy Lemisch, executive director of the California Film Commission. 

Universal's remake of “Scarface” was one of the film productions to be selected for the credit. Its projected crew size is 250 people. 

B-E-T’s series “Being Mary Jane” also won, and is projecting 120 crew jobs.   The numbers aren't final, and a production can't claim its tax credit until it's completed and producers have sent a record of expenditures with an audit for review.


Dockworkers contract at West Coast ports expires, but negotiations continue and cargo keeps moving

LA Port Strike

Brian Watt/KPCC

A strike by port clerical workers in 2012 idled trucks at the Port of Los Angeles

A labor contract covering about 20,000 dockworkers at west coast ports expired at 5:00 p.m. Tuesday, but cargo continued to move, as negotiators on both sides said they'll keep talking on a new contract.

The Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and International Longshore and Warehouse Workers Union (ILWU) have been in contract talks since May 12.  They issued a joint statement shortly after 5pm Tuesday: 

While there will be no contract extension, cargo will keep moving, and normal operations will continue at the ports until an agreement can be reached...Both sides understand the strategic importance of the ports to the local, regional and US economies, and are mindful of the need to finalize a new coast-wide contract as soon as possible to ensure continuing confidence in the West Coast ports and avoid any disruption to the jobs and commerce they support.  


Port of Long Beach will name Jon Slangerup as next Chief Executive.

Jon Slangerup

courtesy Port of Long Beach

Jon Slangerup, a former executive with FedEx Canada, will run the Port of Long Beach

A former President of FedEx Canada has been recommended to run the Port of Long Beach.  

The Long Beach Board of Harbor Commissioners is scheduled to vote Monday to name Jon W. Slangerup as the Port of Long Beach’s new Chief Executive. 

A statement announcing the selection called Slangerup "a veteran corporate executive with extensive experience in global logistics and environmental technologies."  

“With a strong operational and environmental track record, we’re confident that Jon can move us ahead as the Best Green Seaport in the world while providing experienced leadership in developing advanced cargo-handling technology and infrastructure,” said Harbor Commission President Doug Drummond in the statement.  

Slangerup will succeed former Executive Director J. Christopher Lytle, who left the port nearly a year ago for a similar position at the Port of Oakland.  The port's Chief Harbor Engineer Al Moro has served as Interim Executive Director since then. 

“We undertook a rigorous and thorough review process,” noted Commissioner Lori Ann Farrell, who chaired the Port’s search committee in a national review coordinated by executive search firm Boyden.  “In Jon we found the ideal combination of leadership, vision and execution that we need to take us strongly into the next decade.”