Blue and Green

From Urban and Industrial Environments

Blue and Green

The Drive for Justice at America's Port

By Scott L. Cummings

How an alliance of the labor and environmental movements used law as a tool to clean up the trucking industry at the nation's largest port.





How an alliance of the labor and environmental movements used law as a tool to clean up the trucking industry at the nation's largest port.

In Blue and Green, Scott Cummings examines a campaign by the labor and environmental movements to transform trucking at America's largest port in Los Angeles. Tracing the history of struggle in an industry at the epicenter of the global supply chain, Cummings shows how an unprecedented “blue-green” alliance mobilized to improve working conditions for low-income drivers and air quality in nearby communities. The campaign for “clean trucks,” Cummings argues, teaches much about how social movements can use law to challenge inequality in a global era.

Cummings shows how federal deregulation created interrelated economic and environmental problems at the port and how the campaign fought back by mobilizing law at the local level. He documents three critical stages: initial success in passing landmark legislation requiring port trucking companies to convert trucks from dirty to clean and drivers from contractors to employees with full labor rights; campaign decline after industry litigation blocked employee conversion; and campaign resurgence through an innovative legal approach to driver misclassification that realized a central labor movement goal—unionizing port truckers.

Appraising the campaign, Cummings analyzes the tradeoffs of using alternative legal frameworks to promote labor organizing, and explores lessons for building movements to regulate low-wage work in the “gig” economy. He shows how law can bind coalitions together and split them apart, and concludes that the fight for legal reform never ends, but rather takes different turns on the long road to justice.


$99.00 X ISBN: 9780262036986 544 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 20 b&w illus.


$35.00 X ISBN: 9780262534314 544 pp. | 6 in x 9 in 20 b&w illus.


  • A comprehensive study of the origins and development of the campaign to improve labor and environmental conditions at the hub of the modern consumer economy. Illuminating complex intersections of local and national law, Cummings's book is essential reading for scholars of urban studies, local government, labor, and social movements.

    Catherine Fisk

    Barbara Nachtrieb Armstrong Professor of Law, University of California, Berkeley, School of Law

  • Scott Cummings has constructed a compelling analytical narrative about how immigrant truck drivers and environmental activists came together to advance progressive change in Los Angeles area ports. The case study provides powerful, enduring lessons about how law at once shapes, constrains, and facilitates political mobilization in local group-based struggles. Very highly recommended!

    Michael McCann

    Gordon Hirabayashi Professor for the Advancement of Citizenship, University of Washington

  • An insightful and inspiring account of an “against-all-odds” campaign to clean up the nation's largest port, which expanded into a struggle for social and economic justice. Cummings shows how progressive reform can be built locally; how it depends on sometimes surprising coalitions; and how law serves as both an ally and an obstacle to social change. All timely lessons.

    Jody Freeman

    Founder of the Environmental and Energy Law Program at Harvard Law School; coauthor of Global Climate Change and U.S. Law

  • A meticulous historical account of a struggle at the heart of the global economy and a very insightful and informative analysis of movement strategy withfar-reaching significance.

    Brian K. Obach

    State University of New York, New Paltz