The eighth period of picketing by port truck drivers in two years ended Friday, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters announced in a release.
The truck drivers had been protesting picketing drayage firms since Monday, October 26 over accusations of wage theft and employee misclassification. Drivers at XPO Logistics, Intermodal Bridge Transport (IBT), and Gold Point Transportation ended their strike, while drivers at Pacific 9 Transportation (Pac 9) remain on strike indefinitely.
“It is obvious to us that the retailers and the terminals that are supporting low road trucking companies that illegally misclassify their employees as ‘independent contractors’ by doing business with them have little regard for workers rights,” said Fred Potter, international vice president and director of Port Division for the Teamsters in a statement. “We call on the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, America’s retailers, and the terminal operators to stop doing business with law-breaking companies. The Teamsters are committed to stopping the misclassification of workers, and will continue to support the port truck drivers on the front lines of ending wage theft.”
A release issued Friday stated that 14 new drivers claiming they had been misclassified as contractors with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), totaling $3.5 million in claims. One driver, who worked for RPM Transportation, alleged that $450,000 in wage theft had occurred over a three-year period.
The port’s Harbor Trucking Association (HTA), a coalition of drayage and intermodal carriers in California’s ports, sought to differentiate the workers’ emphasis on going on “strike,” versus the term “picketing.”
“A strike by definition requires those picketing to be employees of a company and to be contesting a collective bargaining agreement (CBA),” the HTA stated in a release issued Thursday. “Since those participating are neither employees, nor do they have a CBA, it is simply considered ‘picketing’.”
The release goes on to state that less than three percent of the picketed companies’ drivers were picketing, and that such a percentage represents a fraction of the 16,000 port drivers. The release calls such picketing “unacceptable,” and “disruptive” to the port, given the freedom truck drivers have to seek employment under alternative categories.
“The HTA does not want to discount the rights of workers in the drayage industry; however it is important to note there are ample job opportunities in each model of the industry,” the release states. “At this time, drivers can find work as an independent contractor, union employee, and non-union employee. The HTA firmly advocates for the choice of companies to determine the type of labor/business model they would like to employ, as well as the choice of drivers to choose what types of companies they would like to drive for.”
As the strike ended, the Teamsters were quick to note that there are 21 pending class action lawsuits covering 3,000 current and former misclassified port truck drivers. Additionally, the release stated the Los Angeles City Council adopted a resolution that calls on all companies who conduct business at the San Pedro ports complex to “comply with federal and state employment and labor laws and provide them with the same wage and benefits protections afforded to all employees in our city.”
According to the release, the National Employment Law Project (NELP) estimates the total misclassification liabilities for port truck drivers in California annually is nearly $1 billion per year.