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  • In Historic Case, Port Trucker Misclassification Goes Before Courts
    Posted On: Apr 27, 2016

    By JoAnne Powers, April 28, 2016

    The National Labor Relations Board has filed an official complaint against Chinese trucking subsidiary Intermodal Bridge Transport alleging unfair labor practices against port truck drivers misclassified as independent contractors.  Drivers at Intermodal went on strike for the third time last week at the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach, the latest in a long line of strikes over misclassification in the drayage industry. 

    Julie Gutman Dickinson is Local Counsel for the Teamsters’ Port Division:

    [Julie Gutman Dickinson]: “At the Port of Los Angeles and throughout the country, there has been a pervasive misclassification of drivers as independent contractors when in fact they are employees, and we have had success after success with government agencies, state and federal courts uniformly finding that, in fact, these drivers are employees, and not independent contractors.  The liability for the companies that are misclassifying is growing and growing.”

    Workers who are misclassified as independent contractors are denied the right to form a union under the National Labor Relations Act:

    [Julie Gutman Dickinson]: “It’s effectively telling workers that they cannot unionize, and thereby it’s interfering, restraining and coercing them in their very basic right to choose whether or not to form a union.  This issuance of a complaint by the region, which will be prosecuted by the General Counsel of the NLRB, represents a determination of the regional director that misclassifying drivers in and of itself violates the National Labor Relations Act.  It’s gonna lead to a historic trial.”

    As independent contractors, drivers are not only denied the right to organize and basic labor protections, but they are also responsible for expenses such as maintenance, fuel, insurance and truck rental:

    [Julie Gutman Dickinson]: “Missclassification is wage theft at its worst.  It is unimaginable, but I have seen this several times…that there are weeks where drivers who are misclassified as independent contractors, after working 40, 50 hour weeks, where they in fact get negative paychecks.  I’ve seen it.  It is unconscionable, and it’s unlawful.”

    Gutman Dickinson says the issuance of this complaint by the regional director and now prosecution by the General Counsel of the NLRB is precedent-setting, and will send the message loud and clear to the trucking industry that misclassification carries a very high price:

    [Julie Gutman Dickinson]: “We will continue filing lawsuits, bringing cases to the National Labor Relations Board, to state and federal agencies, and we will continue to fight against misclassification until it is dead.  Drivers are increasingly frustrated.  They will take to the streets and continue their strikes and labor unrest, which I predict will grow in the months and years ahead until misclassification ends.”

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