Vancouver labor dispute spreads to Seattle port

SEATTLE (Aug. 17, 1999) — The labor dispute between owner-operators and 19 trucking companies at the Port of Vancouver spread to Seattle’s waterfront yesterday as independent truckers shouting, “Shut it down, shut it down” vowed to stay off the job until they win union representation and an hourly wage.

A group of owner-operators voted last night to stop work as of this morning until they win Teamsters Union representation and a labor agreement, the Seattle Post-Intelligencer reported today. The Port of Tacoma faces similar action tomorrow.

“None of us has any good credit rating,” said Seattle owner-operator John O’Brien. “I sometimes have to pay interest at 27% to get the money I need to operate. I get paid $37 to haul a container between a port terminal and the Union Pacific or Burlington Northern railhead and sometimes I get stuck there for three or four hours. You can’t make a living that way.”

More than 450 of the 1000 owner-drivers at the Puget Sound ports have signed Teamsters membership cards and will be expected to take part in the job action, a union leader was quoted as saying.

Seattle and Tacoma have been viewed as alternative destinations for shippers wanting to avoid the snarled traffic and docks at the Port of Vancouver. However, Teamsters vowed not to haul any diverted container at Port of Seattle terminals that would be considered “hot cargo.”

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