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“What this workforce sorely needs is a look to the future” Port of Los Angeles CEO

PortandTerminal.com, June 12, 2019

Los Angeles, CA – At a board meeting approving the Port of Los Angeles’ next budget, Gene Seroka, executive director of the Port, reiterated his forecast that Los Angeles container volumes will double in the next 15 years, representing roughly 5 percent annual growth through 2035. To keep volumes going, the seaport’s employees will face a changing workplace in the coming years as new technologies improve cargo fluidity, the port’s executive director said.

Mr. Seroka went on to address workers’ concerns about job losses due to automation in his remarks to the board.

“These workers need to know what’s going to happen next year, in five years, ten years or fifteen years. The industry has never given them that before.”

Gene Seroka, Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles

Transparency

Gene Seroka (Executive Director, Port of Los Angeles)

Recognizing the uncertainty facing the 14,300 unionized workers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Seroka said, “what this workforce sorely needs is a look to the future.”

“You may be talking about automation, you may be talking about digitization, artificial intelligence, or you may be talking about competitiveness,” Seroka told the board. “These workers need to know what’s going to happen next year, in five years, ten years or fifteen years. The industry has never given them that before.”

Seroka’s comments come on the heels of a bitter fight over automation at the Port of Los Angeles in March which mobilized thousands of ILWU dockworkers. Local union officials representing some 12,000 dockworkers demanded that Maersk abandon a plan to introduce driverless electric cargo trucks.

The budget being discussed at the meeting was the 2019/2020 proposed annual budget for the Port of Los Angeles. In that budget, the port forecasts slowing cargo volumes due to continuing trade uncertainty as President Trump’s tariff war with China continues. In spite of slower revenue growth, the $1.6 billion budget also plans for an almost 60% increase in capital improvement projects in the coming year to ensure that Los Angeles bolsters its competitiveness.

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