Father Wil Connor announcing the outcome of the vote. Photos courtesy of Barbara Maynard, Teamsters Port Division.
As of this morning, Friday, January 9 at 10:00AM, port truck drivers from Carson-based Shippers Transport Express, a wholly-owned subsidiary of SSA Marine, have chosen Teamsters Local 848 as their exclusive bargaining representative and will now begin negotiating a collective bargaining agreement with their employer, according to a news release sent out earlier today. Father Wil Connor, Pastor Emeritus, St. Joseph’s Roman Catholic Church, Long Beach announced the vote this morning.
Prior to January, 1, 2015, the drivers had been working as "independent contractors," while in November of 2014, they were notified that the company was transitioning to an employee-based business model and were invited to apply for employee jobs. 88 out of 111 employee drivers, or 79 percent of the workers, signed union authorization cards that were validated this morning.
Shippers drivers with Kevin Baddeley, General Manager, Shippers Transport Express, and Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 848.
“This has been a long struggle and we are grateful that Shippers agreed to remain neutral during our campaign to become Teamsters,” said Mike Acosta, a port truck driver employed by Shippers, in a press statement. “As Teamsters, and professional port truck drivers, we look forward to working with management to move port cargo more efficiently and to modernize the industry.”
“This historic agreement represents an important step in drivers’ efforts to reform the drayage industry, and demonstrates clearly that labor and management can work together constructively to find solutions to challenges facing the industry and to the injustices facing the drivers,” said Fred Potter, Director, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Port Division, in a statement. “As Teamsters, Shippers drivers will now begin the hard work of negotiating a first contract to assure that they earn a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work.”
Kevin Baddeley, General Manager, Shippers Transport Express explained that this transition to an employee-based business model is a crucial step in the drayage industry's efforts to reduce congestion at the ports and on our freeways. A more efficient, stabilized and modernized workforce is the end goal of the truckers' unionization and the now current negotiations.
“This is an historic day not just for port truck drivers, but for workers across America,” said Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Executive Director, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice. “Too many workers face harassment, intimidation, and retaliation from management for exercising their right to form a union. Respecting drivers’ right to form a union is the moral and just thing to do, as taught by religious traditions.”
Both sides agreed to participate in this neutral process for unionization, required by The Labor Relations Act, meaning that Shippers Transport Express has agreed not to interfere in the employees' decisions regarding unionization, has agreed not to use intimidation, threats or reprisal, promise of benefits or other conduct or speech to intimidate or coerce drivers to influence their decision on whether to join or be represented by the Teamsters.
“I congratulate the Los Angeles and Long Beach port truck drivers on their decision to unionize. Their talents and dedication help make the greater Los Angeles area function. Now they can fight for equitable pay and good working conditions, while advancing the business of the ports – it’s a win-win,” Senator Ricardo Lara said in a statement.