Cargoland: Why are the ports so important to Southern California?

Written by
View of the port. Photo by Lu Olkowski

All this week on KCRW, we’re reporting on the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to explore one very large part of the greater LA economy. Cargolandlooks behind the gates of America’s busiest waterfront.

LA Observed editor Kevin Roderick joined KCRW’s Steve Chiotakis to talk about the economic impact of the ports and why they are such a big deal to our region.“The ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have always been major drivers of the Southern California economy, perhaps the driver of the Southern California economy,” Kevin told Steve. However, times are changing and this is affecting the workers on the waterfront. Last month there was a truckers’ walkout to protest their status as independent contractors. Independent contractor status means they have little control over their day to day work and don’t have reliable benefits.

The ports have always been a big part of the labor movement, Kevin explained. Longshore workers, also in the midst of negotiations, are facing uncertainty. “It’s unclear what’s going to happen because union members are feeling some fear about the future,” said Roderick.