Largest tenant at Port of L.A. gets green light to use automated cargo handlers

SAN PEDRO, Calif. (KABC) -- The Los Angeles Board of Harbor Commissioners voted Thursday to allow the biggest tenant at the Port of Los Angeles, shipping company Maersk, to bring in automated electric-powered cargo handlers.

During the heated board meeting, members of a local chapter of the International Longshoremen's and Warehousemen's Union expressed their concern over losing jobs to automation.

"With this vote, you can give yourselves time to more fully address the negative impacts automation will have on our community," said Ray Familathe, President of ILWU Local 13. "The negative impact automation will have on our local economy. The negatives impact automation will have on the workforce that serves our communities."

The longshoremans' union is appealed the move with the backing of local politicians.

L.A. County Supervisor Janice Hahn also attended the meeting and spoke against the decision.

"It is ILWU that moves cargo, not robots," said Hahn.

A spokesperson for Maersk says automation will benefit the community.

"We firmly support the Clean Air Action plan, the environmental goals of the San Pedro community," said spokesperson Peter Jabbour at the meeting. "And we believe the permit will allow us to achieve the environmental goals of the port without sacrificing the competitiveness of the port."

After nearly four hours of public comment -- much of it contentious -- the commission voted to allow Maersk to move forward with its plans.

The company says the automation equipment is already in containers heading for the Port of Los Angeles and should arrive in a few weeks.
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