Don't Drink the Tea. Think With the WE.

Dray Day: Truckers at Port of L.A. Strike Anew, Apply Pressure to Four Chronic Misclassifiers


image by Los Angeles Times

submit to reddit

Nearly 500 truck drivers at the port of Los Angeles/Long Beach went on strike yesterday, protesting their status as independent contractors and demanding better wages.  The decision to strike came after a weekend vote organized by the Teamsters union on behalf of the drivers.

The misclassified truckers are taking action against four drayage companies: Intermodal Bridge Transport (IBT), Pacific 9 Transportation, Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport.  The truck drivers are asking Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia to intervene.

Speaking to The Press Telegram, Gary Schubert, Executive Vice President of IBT, said of the strike: “All we can say is, they have a right to protest what they feel is right.  We have a different opinion, and we’re waiting for everything to work itself out.”

Misclassification is prevalent in the drayage industry, which often leaves truck drivers on the hook for expenses ranging from truck repairs, to fuel, to taxes and benefits.  Their status also means they are exempt from minimum wage and overtime laws, and cannot join unions.  A report commissioned by Teamsters supporters found that roughly 50,000 of the nation’s 75,200 port drivers are misclassified, including 16,400 of the 25,000 drivers in California.

Barb Maynard, a spokeswoman for the Teamsters, explained the reality of being misclassified in the drayage industry to Southern California Public Radio (SCPR):

“They do not set their own rates, and they can’t refuse loads.  They also cannot go and work for other companies.  They cannot take the truck that they are leasing, drive it over to another company and work for them if that company is willing to pay a higher rate.”

The strike is the latest in a series of actions by misclassified California truckers over the past year.  The Teamsters stepped in to help in 2013 and last November led a major strike which resulted in a tremendous boost in awareness. Nearly 500 truckers filed claims with the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) at the time.  The DLSE eventually found that those drivers were owed upwards of $6.5 million in back wages and penalties (or $100,000 per driver).  There are currently at least 17 pending class action lawsuits against large port trucking companies.  The U.S. Department of Labor and state attorneys general have also filed misclassification lawsuits against companies.

As Maynard told The OC Register: “In every single case, the ruling has been in the drivers’ favor, and companies are told that these drivers are misclassified. But many of these companies are refusing to follow the law and refusing to pay these back wages.”

In January, a Superior Court judge ruled that the drivers at Pacer Cartage were improperly classified as independent contractors.  XPO Logistics, parent company of Pacer and Harbor Rail Transport, insists it will appeal the decision.  At the time, the attorney for the drivers suggested the ruling would be a bellwether:

“This case sets the stage for all the other cases that are pending.  Now, every truck company is put on notice that if they have a similar scheme in place, (they) are in willing violation of California law.”

Later that month, Shippers Transport Express decided that its drivers should be reclassified as employees.  The employees eventually voted to join the Teamsters union.

There is currently no scheduled end for this week’s strike action.  Jon Slangerup, CEO of the Port of Long Beach, said the truck drivers’ action would not affect operations at the port.

Justice for Port Drivers has been regularly updating and uploading via its social media pages (@PortDriverUnion). The explanatory video below was posted yesterday.


No Comments on “Dray Day: Truckers at Port of L.A. Strike Anew, Apply Pressure to Four Chronic Misclassifiers”

No one has commented on this entry yet.

Leave a Reply

To prove you're a person (not a spam script), type the security word shown in the picture. Click on the picture to hear an audio file of the word.
Anti-spam image