Striking drayage drivers, companies agree to cool off work stoppage

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Monday, July 14, 2014

Striking truck drivers returned to work over the weekend at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Truck drivers agreed to a cooling off period after five days of pickets and targeted strikes intermittently slowed container traffic at three port trucking terminals.

About 120 truck drivers walked off the job Monday, July 7, to protest the classification of drivers as independent contractors. The drivers work for Green Fleet, Total Transportation Services Inc. and Pacific 9 Transportation – three motor carriers who move major freight quantities for Walmart, Target and other retail giants. The strike was the fourth such work stoppage in the past year, and reflected building tension between the drivers and the trucking companies.

Justice for Port Drivers, an organization that supported the strike, said the truckers voted unanimously to return to regular work shifts following a request by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti.

“I walked this picket line to show that a handful of workers really can make a difference,” said Daniel Linares, according to Justice for Port Drivers. “Never again will we be silent and accept the harassment and indignities that our bosses inflict on us. We will not be intimidated. We will not be silent in our fight for our families and our dignity.”

The Port of Long Beach said the picket only slowed container traffic nominally, though traffic flow nearly halted at the targeted terminals when a reported 1,000 longshoremen joined the protest this past Tuesday. A labor arbitrator soon ordered the dock workers back to work.

The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which backed port drivers during the picketing, indicated its organization would be keeping an eye on the ports.

“This week, striking port truck drivers showed tremendous courage and commitment to stopping the injustices they face hauling the goods that Americans rely on every day,” Fred Potter, a Teamsters vice president and director of the organization’s port division, said in a statement.

“While the drivers wanted to continue the strike, they agreed to a cooling off period because Mayor Garcetti personally committed to them that he will thoroughly investigate the serious injustices the drivers presented and take strong action as there is no place for lawbreakers at the Port of Los Angeles,” Potter said.

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