Owner-ops lose parking spots at Wilmington port yard, claim retaliation

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | 7/1/2014

Should a trucking company provide overnight parking for day cab trucks driven by owner-operators that work for the company?

An ongoing labor dispute has pitted independent owner-operators and a drayage trucking company against each other at the largest twin port complex on the Left Coast. Total Transportation Services Inc., based in Rancho Dominguez, Calif., has reportedly notified its independent owner operators that the company had been told its lease at Wilmington’s Harbor Division Yard J was not being renewed.

“Please be advised that all independent owner-operators must find a new place to park your trucks/tractors,” reads a TTSI notice, according to the Long Beach Press-Telegram. “The numerous protests by TTSI owner-operators, along with Teamster organizers, has caused disruption to cargo flow for the many other motor carriers that utilize the facility. As a result, TTSI was advised that the lease will not be renewed.”

Not so fast, responded TTSI drivers, who brought their company-owned trucks to TTSI headquarters and parked them in front of the building’s curb. “Now we have a stand-off,” a picture posted to facebook.com reads.

In a letter sent Monday to TTSI company owner Vic LaRosa, the drivers pointed out their trucks are owned by TTSI.

“The truck I drive is not registered to me; it is registered to – or financed by – you. It is TTSI’s obligation to provide safe and secure parking for the trucks you lease. I cannot and will not take responsibility for company equipment I do not own when I am not with the truck. And I cannot abandon my family to protect it 24 hours a day, seven days a week by sleeping in it (nor is your truck equipped with a sleeper cab).”

Drivers at several motor carriers that serve the twin ports at Long Beach and Los Angeles have been protesting their classification as independent contractors. The National Labor Relations Board has investigated several companies for retaliation and anti-union intimidation.

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