Drivers at Port of Los Angeles, Long Beach strike again

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Port drayage trucks at the Left Coast’s busiest combined port complex moved with little tension during the end of spring and the first month of summer.

Consider that peace over.

On Tuesday, pictures on social media showed a horde of news crews photographing and recording drayage drivers delivering their notice of intent to strike at one container trucking company.

The trucking group Justice for Port Truck Drivers announced that drivers that work for Pac 9 Transportation began an “indefinite strike.” The drivers say they are fighting their misclassification as independent contractors rather than company employees.

At 6 a.m. Tuesday, drivers began picketing Carson, Calif.-based Pac 9 Transportation.

In a news release issued by the Teamsters-backed Justice for Port Drivers, Pac 9 driver Pedro Martinez said in five years of driving experience, he’d never been treated like he had at Pac 9 Transportation.

“The company refuses to recognize us as employees, refuses to provide us with safe and reliable trucks and refuses to improve our work environment,” Martinez said, according to the news release. “We are going on strike again, this time indefinitely because we are tired of the misclassification.”

Justice for Port Drivers recognized other drayage companies for recent changes to an employee-driver model. Shippers Transport Express and Eco Flow Transportation recently changed from using independent contractor drivers to employee drivers.

Drivers have made increasing numbers of wage and misclassification claims before the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. Justice for Port Drivers said drivers appear to have momentum, and called the classification of the majority of the 10,000 port drivers a way to “steal” from truckers.

“At Pac 9, like at many companies, the owners are fusing to comply with the law and end misclassification,” the Justice for Port Drivers news release stated. “With 40 drivers’ wage and hour hearings scheduled in upcoming days before the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement, Pac 9 would rather fight the losing battle in court than dispose of their illegal business model.”

Tuesday’s strike is the seventh such work stoppage that drivers have organized in recent years at the twin port complex.

The Teamsters say they’ll continue to back the drivers.
“Pac 9 drivers have courageously withstood retaliation and mistreatment by their employer for over two years, but these drivers refuse to back down from their fight for justice,” Teamsters Port Division Director Fred Potter said, according to the news release. “The Teamsters Union continues to support their efforts every step of the way.”

According to the company’s website, Pac 9 Transportation was formed in 2004 and has more than 160 trucks serving the ports daily. The company has more than 100,000 feet of warehouse space.

The company didn’t immediately respond to phone messages left Tuesday.

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