By JoAnne Powers, March 1, 2016:
Port truck drivers went on strike again Monday at the Nation’s largest port complex in Los Angeles and Long Beach, California. The drivers have been fighting epidemic misclassification and wage theft for years, and on Monday expanded their demands for justice directly to the marine terminals. Port drivers struck from two companies including XPO Logistics, one of the world’s largest trucking companies. Barb Maynard is spokesperson for the Teamsters Justice for Port Truck Drivers Campaign:
[Barb Maynard]: “The workers here who are picketing today are actually in solidarity with workers who are fighting back in France, in the Netherlands, in Spain, in Great Britain, but what they’re specifically protesting today here in Los Angeles is their misclassification as independent contractors and the company’s demands that these drivers basically sign an onerous lease agreement that they will stop protesting against the company. And these drivers are mad as hell, they’re fighting back and they’re not gonna take it.”
Misclassification of workers as independent contractors is costly for the drivers:
[Barb Maynard]: “The trucking company hires the driver as an exclusive independent contractor. That company charges the driver to rent the company’s truck, to fuel the company’s truck, to maintain and repair the company’s truck, to pay for all insurance and various fees related to that truck, and they deduct all of those expenses from the driver’s pay check. As a result, what you often see is drivers working below minimum wage on a good day, but often the driver ends up owing the company to work. Not only is it unconscionable, but it’s illegal, and it’s tax fraud.”
Workers from Pacific 9 Transportation have been on strike since July of last year. In December, the California Labor Commissioner ruled the company owed 38 drivers seven million dollars in stolen wages. During Monday’s pickets workers demanded the company pay up, and called on the port of Los Angeles to ban Pac-9 permanently because they’ve broken the law so consistently.
[Barb Maynard]: “There are drivers out doing what’s called ambulatory picketing, looking for trucks that are entering the ports, and when those trucks do enter the ports they can put up a picket line, which is what causes such congestion and delays at the marine terminals. And it’s been an interesting morning. These marine terminal operators are so concerned about the picket lines that they are in fact turning away trucks from these companies. So we’re on our way right now to our third terminal. These drivers’ voices are being heard loud and clear by the ports, which really understand the power of their picket line. So long as companies like Pac 9 are allowed to continue to do business in a lawless environment, then change is not going to happen, so we are not backing down.”