Plagued by employee-contractor legal disputes, drayage carrier files bankruptcy

By Charlie Morasch, Land Line contributing writer | Monday, March 21, 2016

A major port drayage trucking company has filed for bankruptcy after losing several legal battles over its ability to designate professional truck drivers as independent contractors.

Total Transportation Services Inc., also known as Premium Transportation Services Inc., filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in federal court in Delaware on Monday, March 14.

TTSI is one of several large port drayage trucking companies that have been burned by battles over the practice of classifying drayage truck drivers as independent contractors. Many drivers have won legal claims that they were misclassified as independent drivers even while being made to wear company uniforms, drive company trucks, take specific break times, and adhere to other measures typically required of employees.

TTSI had about 140 independent contractor truck drivers who mostly owned their own trucks.

According to court documents, the company blamed “downward pricing pressure from some of its major clients over the past year.” Legal expenses related to driver classification also hurt TTSI’s ability to meet its obligations, the company said.

TTSI lost 14 lawsuits in California state court and nearly a dozen claims of misclassification cases heard by the California Labor Commission. The company lost $3.5 million in awards and damages to drivers and spent $4 million more in legal fees.

TTSI and other major port drayage carriers have come under increasing scrutiny from labor bodies and as a result of protests launched by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and associated worker organizations.

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