Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, port truck drivers, business and labor leaders and environmental groups announced Monday the formation of Eco Flow Transportation, a company that will hire all drivers as employees instead of independent contractors and focus on improving air quality through the Port of Los Angeles and Port of Long Beach Clean Trucks Program.
"The misclassification of port truck drivers is not the gripe of a few drivers but a battle cry of a systemic problem that must be addressed," said Garcetti in a statement. "These professional men and women drivers are just the type of middle class Angelenos we need to support as we build an economy that works for everyone."
"Eco Flow is leading the way and becoming a model for the future of goods movement in Southern California – and soon, the rest of the nation as well," said Garcetti. Eco Flow Transportation is owned by parent company Saybrook Logistics, which also owns Total Transportation Services, Inc. (TTSI).
Alex Paz, an employee driver for Eco Flow Transportation, thanked the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Port Division and Mayor Garcetti for standing by the drivers, many of whom were on strike the week of Monday, April 27, protesting wage theft. Paz formerly worked for TTSI.
“We are 100 percent committed to working with you all to make Eco Flow a success," Paz said. "We know that we are a part of something new and different and great."
The “Port Solutions Agreement,” developed between Eco Flow and the Teamsters and brokered by Mayor Garcetti between the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Port Division and Saybrook Logistics, states that Eco Flow has a neutral position regarding its employees’ choice to unionize. It also states that the company is a 100 percent employee driver company “designed to maximize efficient utilization of truck assets in order to reduce congestion and diesel emissions.”
It states that Eco Flow will utilize “free flow” cargo, which can help move cargo in and out of terminals more quickly.
According to the release, the agreement also included resolved outstanding legal issues between the Teamsters and TTSI, alongside their decision to “aggressively” promote the Port Solutions Agreement.
“This is a real transformation, not only for our company but for the industry,” said Eco Flow and Saybrook Chair Jonathan Rosenthal in a statement. “Drayage trucking needs to adapt to the changing trends in goods movement and this new company model is symbolic of that needed change."
Director of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Port Division Fred Potter said the organization is committed to ensuring that the “Port Solutions Agreement” and Eco Flow Transportation will lead the port trucking industry into a “new era of growth, innovation and efficiency. AND good jobs."
According to the release, Eco Flow's first month of operation brought in 80 employee drivers and is on track to have 500 employee drivers within the next year.
David Pettit, senior attorney for the Natural Resources Defense Council said the deal works well for the environment, as the "underpaid" independent contractors are typically tasked with maintaining trucks with damaged diesel filters that disable the trucks from "running hot enough."
"From the environmental standpoint, the great thing about the deal that Mayor Garcetti brokered is that it is the best opportunity to have the cleanest trucks and to keep them well maintained,” Pettit said.