Truck drivers at Los Angeles port carrier vote to join Teamsters

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 1/13/2015

Truck drivers working at one Los Angeles drayage company have elected to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Shippers Transport Express, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SSA Marine, has agreed to designate Teamsters Local 848 as the only bargaining representative for employee drivers. As recently as December 2014, the drivers were classified as independent contractors.

“This has been a long struggle, and we are grateful that shippers agreed to remain neutral during our campaign to become Teamsters,” Mike Acosta, a port driver employed by the company said, according to a Teamsters news release. “As Teamsters – and professional port truck drivers – we look forward to working with management to move port cargo more efficiently and to modernize the industry.”

Fred Potter, director of the Teamsters Port Division, hailed the agreement as a first step to ensuring drivers “earn a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work.”

“This historic agreement represents an important step in drivers’ efforts to reform the drayage industry, and demonstrates clearly that labor and management can work together constructively to find solutions to challenges facing the industry and to the injustices facing the drivers,” Potter said, according to the Teamsters news release.

According to the Teamsters, the agreement converted Shippers Transport Express from an independent contractor business to an employee-based drayage company as of Jan. 1, 2015. The drayage company agreed not to interfere in the employees’ election on unionization, and also agreed not to intimidate, threaten or influence drivers in their decision on joining the union.

The Teamsters agreed not to disparage Shippers Transport Express or disrupt work through strikes, picketing and other job actions. The company agreed to recognize the Teamsters Local 848 as the drivers’ bargaining agent.

The drivers used a federal law that allows employers to voluntarily recognize a union after majority support for the union is shown by signed authorization cards. The other option for unionization utilizes an election process overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.

Kevin Baddeley, general manager with Shippers Transport Express, said according to the release his company was neutral “because we respect our drivers’ right to form a union.”

“Shippers’ transition to an employee-based business model is a crucial step in the drayage industry’s efforts to modernize, make the ports more efficient and reduce congestion at the ports and on our freeways,” Baddeley stated.

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