California Autos Examiner

Friday, August 22, 2008

Are Daimler and the Port of Long Beach Turning Truckers Into Sharecroppers?

It was a simple plan (how many times have we heard that). Swap out old, polluting trucks for new, cleaner burning models. To assist low income truck drivers in making the switch, a lease-to-loan program was to be setup by the Port of Long Beach with Daimler Truck Finance.

Advocacy groups accuse the Port and Daimler of setting up a predatory lending scheme and allege that Daimler knows that many drivers will not be able to keep up with payments on the $100k + rigs. According to reports, a Daimler official publicly told the Long Beach officials that the company expects "over 40%" of port drivers to have "high difficulty meeting the payments" and that the company's strength is "managing collections." Port of Long Beach officials fire back at the criticism of its program, saying that the advocacy groups have it wrong and that the loan program is practically giving the trucks away.

What the groups want is for the Port of Long Beach to model its loan program after the one that Daimler created for the Port of Los Angeles. In that plan, new trucks are sold to trucking companies rather than individuals. The LA plan isn't without criticism, with the Port of Los Angeles board accused of being more interesting in helping the Teamsters organize the industry than in cleaning up the air.

That's a whole lot of finger pointing! Most truckers admit to being confused and are simply staying on the sidelines until terms are hashed out.

sources: la times, cunningham report
photo source: wikipedia

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