The Teamsters Port Division issued the following statement Friday evening about the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) and International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) coming to a tentative agreement after a nine month stalemate.
“The truck drivers who haul containers on and off the docks at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are breathing a collective sigh of relief with the news that the ILWU and the PMA have reached a tentative contract. Because the vast majority of port truck drivers are misclassified as independent contractors, every day that the ports are shut down, the drivers have gone further into the financial hole because they are paid by the load, and – even when the port is shut down – the boss has continued to deduct the cost of the truck, insurance, and even parking of the company truck at their own yard from their paychecks. This is wage theft and it is illegal.
“The longshoreman have fought for more than 100 years for a seat at the economic table; it is now the truckers turn,” the statement continued. “The Teamsters will continue to support the drivers’ fight for a seat at the economic table until justice is served.”
The tentative agreement between the ILWU and PMA came just after the Teamsters, Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network and regional community service groups such as the California Employment Development Department (EDD), Labor Community Services AFL-CIO and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice declared their support and guidance for all truckers if a port shutdown were to occur.
According to the Teamsters, a shutdown would have stalled more than 10,000 port truck drivers misclassified as “independent contractors” without pay or “apparent access to unemployment benefits.”
Within the the last year, the California Labor Commissioner, EDD and California courts have determined truck drivers at some trucking companies as being unlawfully misclassified, according to the Teamsters. Non-union misclassified drivers have won employment benefits after being laid off, and have successfully disputed challenges by their employers who had not been paying their unemployment taxes, with the help of the Teamsters.
Drivers have been disputing and winning disability and workman’s compensation cases when injured, as well as have been fighting for and winning back pay, awarded for illegal deductions taken from their paychecks; they have won their jobs back from being illegally fired for standing up for their rights, according to the the Teamsters.