By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Monday, July 07, 2014
Drayage truck drivers at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have gone on strike for the fourth time in the last year.
Unlike previous work stoppages that lasted 24 to 48 hours, however, Monday’s strike offered no such expiration date.
According to the Justice for Port Truck Drivers organization, the strike began Monday when port drivers at three large drayage companies stopped work, citing low wages, poor working conditions and “indefinite unfair labor practices” at truck yards and marine terminals at the twin ports.
Backed by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, drivers at Green Fleet, Total Transportation Services Inc. and Pacific 9 Transportation stopped work Monday and picketed near port company terminal property. The three companies targeted by the strike classify their drayage drivers as independent contractors. The protesting drivers believe they should be classified as employees.
“We are fed up,” Alex Paz, a former driver with Total Transportation Services Incorporated, told MSNBC. “When the company misclassifies you, you’re denied Social Security, you’re denied medical, you’re denied workers’ comp.”
The Justice for Port Truck Drivers organization, which helped organize the strike, issued a news release Monday detailing key issues behind the work stoppage.
“In a desperate quest to maintain the status quo, company owners are firing, intimidating, and countersuing drivers; countersuing state agencies, filing appeals on trial court decisions; and filing to compel arbitration to stay government proceedings,” the statement reads.
Despite multiple national news stories about the strike, the work stoppage’s reach was difficult to gauge during its first day.
Lee Peterson, a spokesman with the Port of Long Beach, said port leaders didn’t see an effect of the strike on port traffic. Monday’s driver strike coincided with an annual observance participated by many longshoreman called “Bloody Thursday,” Peterson said, which rendered two container terminals unusable during Monday’s business hours.
“All of the terminals will be open as of 6 p.m. tonight,” said Peterson, who said he could see trucks coming in and out of the port all morning.
Tension between owner-operators and some companies at the ports has been high for years.
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.
In recent weeks, TTSI sparked a protest when it informed owner-operators they would no longer be allowed to park their company trucks at the TTSI yard overnight.
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