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Robots versus workers in the port of LA

Los Angeles - The Los Angeles City Council on Friday has voted to veto the harbor commission’s approval of a construction permit for an automation project at APM Terminals

Los Angeles - The Los Angeles City Council on Friday has voted to veto the harbor commission’s approval of a construction permit for an automation project at APM Terminals, adding to the confusion surrounding a project that would introduce a new form of port automation in North America.

Regardless of the vote, Maersk, the giant shipping company that controls APM Terminals, has written a letter to mayor Eric Garcetti to announce it will move ahead with introducing driverless cargo carriers at LA’s port terminal, the largest in the United States.

The letter, as reported by several papers in the Usa, states that Maersk “has the undisputed right under its lease and its collective bargaining agreement to introduce automated technology of this sort and does not require any permit or any other port, city or state approval”.

But workers, faced with the possibility of hundreds of job losses, rose up and prompted the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, ILWU, which represents more than 10,000 dockworkers, to challenge a minor permit for the APM carriers’ electric chargers and other equipment in hopes of blocking the whole project.

As the Los Angeles Times reports, Maersk contends labor costs must be cut to compete with ports on the East and Gulf coasts. ILWU Local 13 President Ray Familathe recently estimated that 500 daily “job opportunities” for union shift workers could be lost. APM Terminals’ Lagaay said that “is not unrealistic.”

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