LOS ANGELES (PAI)–Democratic presidential hopeful Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.) has sided with the joint Teamsters-environmentalist “clean trucks” campaign at the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach, Ricardo Hidalgo reports in the Southern California Teamster. The union is trying to organize the 16,000 drivers into and out of the port–the nation’s busiest and largest–but to do so it must get around the trucking companies’ contention the truckers are “independent contractors” not covered by labor law. The solution is legislation that goes a long way towards mandating cleanup of the pollution from the trucks, and declares the drivers “employees” who can be organized.

Obama supports that bill, Hidalgo wrote. “Adopting the Clean Trucks Program will make it possible to ensure that the pollution these trucks are creating and the low compensation truckers receive are reversed,” he quoted Obama as writing. “Promoting the cleanest available technology and a transition away from ports relying on companies that act as brokers to ones that treat their workers as employees are the necessary steps to meet emissions reduction targets and ensure the jobs at our ports are middle-class jobs.”

The Clean Trucks Campaign also has backing from L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa and Long Beach Mayor Bob Foster, Hidalgo pointed out.

HONOLULU (PAI)–The Hawaii Newspaper Guild and the Hawaii Tribune-Herald are headed for a showdown in Honolulu on Feb. 5, The Guild Reporter says. At issue before the National Labor Relations Board’s administrative law judge there will be charges of management labor law-breaking during stalled contract bargaining. The charges say the paper “insisted on unreasonable concessionary bargaining proposals” and “refused to meet at reasonable times and engaged in other delay tactics, all with no intention of reaching agreement.”

NEW YORK (PAI)–After 3 years of fruitless talks, Champion Air pilots will take to the informational picket lines on Jan. 15 at Madison Square Garden in New York, Airline Pilot reported. The National Mediation Board, which oversees airline labor-management relations, has yet to respond to Champion management’s demand that their talks recess–or order the airline to bargain. Champion, a charter carrier, flies 13 NBA teams to games, including the Washington Wizards, who play the New York Knicks at the Garden that night.