LOS ANGELES/LONG BEACH — Port truck drivers working as independent contractors for four firms serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach hit the picket lines on Monday.
At issue are allegations that the carriers illegally classify the drivers as independent contractors, rather than company employees, and deny them the benefits typically paid to company workers, according to DC Velocity.
Truckinginfo.com reports the drivers are claiming wage theft on part of their employers due to being misclassified. Despite being labeled independent contract workers, the drivers are driving trucks owned by the trucking companies and working exclusively for them without being able to negotiate rates, refuse loads or take work from competitors.
According to Justice for Port Truck Drivers, an advocacy group supported by the Teamsters Union, drivers are picketing Intermodal Bridge Transport, Pacific 9 Transportation, Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport. XPO Logistics Inc., the Greenwich, Conn.-based freight broker and third-party logistics provider, controls the latter two companies.
A fifth company, Green Fleet Systems, avoided a strike, choosing to enter into a bargaining agreement with its drivers.
In an interview with DC Velocity, Phillip Sanfield, a spokesman for the Port of Los Angeles, the four companies being targeted account for 472 out of about 13,700 trucks that operate at the twin ports, which make up the country’s largest port complex. Sanfield said on Monday that there has been virtually no impact on operations at either port.
The comes about two months after the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) agreed on a tentative five-year contract, ending months of acrimonious negotiations that allegedly led to a worker slowdown. Before the agreement dockworkers allegedly paralyzed operations at the 29 West Coast ports where ILWU represents workers, the repercussions of which are still being felt long after being settled.
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