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Jun
2013
4

Savannah Truck Drivers, Feeling the Pain of Misclassification, Look to the Teamsters for Help

Misclassified truck drivers bear the brunt of all costs related to their trucks, even when they don't own them.

Misclassified truck drivers bear the brunt of all costs related to their trucks, even when they don’t own them.



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Last weekend, truckers at the port of Savannah participated in a forum with community leaders in which they addressed working conditions at the Port of Savannah, one of the nation’s busiest port terminals.  At the heart of the matter is the misclassification of truckers as independent contractors which strips them of benefits and misplaces the burden of operating costs on workers.  

With assistance from the Teamsters union these truckers are looking for some relief. Savannah driver John Jackson spoke to local news affiliate WSAV:

“They classify us as independent contractors but control [us] pretty much as an employee. They tell us what to do, they tell us what they are going to pay us.”

James Myrick, a fellow truck driver in the area, echoed the sentiment. Misclassification means vehicle maintenance is often the responsibility of the employee even in instances when the driver does not own the truck.  These astronomical expenses, coupled with health care costs that employers should be responsible for, turn a good-paying job into a poverty wage job at the end of the day.

“We are not afforded the same benefits as regular employees are afforded such as unemployment, health insurance, retirement.

“I grossed $61,000 last year before fuel, maintenance, repairs, and upkeep. After all of that there’s not much left.”

Myrick told WSAV that after deductions he made roughly $22,000 last year.

We’re the guys that move these products. If we don’t move this product there’s nothing at Walmart for you to buy. Lipstick, flat screen TVs, t-shirts, towels, you name it we move everything.”

Misclassification of truck drivers is not limited to the Port of Savannah. It is endemic in this field. Drivers in Seattle took the issue head on in February of 2012 while drivers at the Port of Los Angeles came together this year to try to affect change, also with help from the Teamsters. Throughout the country and across industry, state legislatures are attempting to pass bills that put an end to misclassification though in some instances these bills do die.  

“Big” Mike Alleyne, another Savannah driver, explained the stark reality of life in the right lane:

Everything falls on us. If we get a ticket, it falls on us. If it’s equipment, it falls on us. We’re responsible for our own insurance. We don’t have any backing really.”

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