Siding with dockworkers fearful of losing their jobs to robots, the Los Angeles City Council voted Friday to overrule a permit granted by a panel of harbor commissioners that would pave the way for driverless electric cargo handlers to operate at the Port of L.A.
However, the company that sought the permit — shipping giant Maersk — says it will proceed with its automation plan anyway, throwing into doubt the validity of the council’s action.
The hearing nevertheless allowed City Council members to publicly decry the trend of automation, earning them raucous applause from the scores of dockworkers from the International Longshore and Warehouse Union who packed the council chamber at City Hall.
Councilman Joe Buscaino, who grew up in San Pedro and represents communities around the port, led his colleagues in rejecting the permit. He gave an emotional speech, describing how his 16-year-old son asked him what would happen to their relatives — cousins, aunts and uncles — who work at the port.
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