Costco ceases business with company accused of exploiting truckers

By Mark Schremmer, Land Line staff writer | 8/30/2017

Costco has reportedly stopped doing business with a California trucking company that was accused of exploiting port truck drivers.

According to the “USA Today,” Issaquah, Wash.-based Costco Wholesale Corp. ceased business with Long Beach, Calif.-based Pacific 9 Transportation after a news investigation alleged that several retail giants, including Costco, Target, and Hewlett-Packard, have allowed port trucking companies to use unfair or illegal labor practices. The series in “USA Today” revealed how port truck drivers were forced to finance their own trucks and work as many as 20 hours a day to make the payments.

A representative for Pacific 9 Transportation on Wednesday declined to make a statement regarding Costco’s decision. Pacific 9 is one of the largest port trucking companies in Southern California. 

In late July, Sens. Sherrod Brown, D-Ohio; Elizabeth Warren, D-Mass.; Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif.; and Kamala Harris, D-Calif., penned a letter that asked retail companies to crack down on trucking companies that commit labor violations.

“We were disappointed to learn that some companies have reportedly helped perpetuate these abuses by turning a blind eye to labor violations and worker mistreatment occurring at port trucking companies they contract with,” the senators wrote to 16 retail companies, including Costco. “We write to urge you to ensure (your company’s) products are transported only by companies that comply with the state and federal labor laws that protect the economic security and health and safety of workers.”

The letter also included three questions for each of the retail companies:

  1. Prior to the publication of the “USA Today” investigation, was (your company) aware of any complaints regarding these labor abuses from truck drivers in your supply chain? If so, please identify all violations of federal and state labor laws by trucking companies in (your company’s) supply chain that you were aware of.
  2. Going forward, will (your company) immediately cancel any contracts with port trucking companies that require their employees to participate in abusive lease-to-own truck programs or that have violated state or federal safety standards and worker protections, including illegally misclassifying drivers as independent contractors?
  3. Will (your company) publically demand higher standards among port trucking companies, which could have an immediate impact on limiting the ability of companies to abuse drivers in the manner described in the “USA Today” investigation?

According to “USA Today,” Hewlett-Packard also sent an auditor to investigate Pacific 9’s labor practices.

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