Photo by Stephanie Rivera.
On Monday, December 14, the California Labor Commissioner determined that 38 port truck drivers who work for Pacific 9 Transportation (Pac 9) are employees, not independent contractors, and subsequently ordered Pac 9 to pay them nearly $7 million in stolen wages, according to a release sent to the Post on Tuesday.
Pac 9 moves containers from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for some of the nation’s major brands, including Costco, Goodyear Tires, Ugg Boots and Microsoft. The Labor Commissioner determined that Pac 9 owes unlawful deductions, liquidated damages, business expenses, meal and rest periods and interest and waiting time penalties to the drivers.
The ruling marks the first time that the Labor Commissioner has issued back-to-back hearings for individual wage theft claims at one company, according to the release. The California Division of Labor Standards (DLSE) began the series of 38 “Wage and Hour” hearings on July 27, the last hearing was held on September 10.
“We have finally had our day in court and we are extremely grateful that the government has realized that it isn’t just a handful of drivers that are misclassified – it is all of us,” said Daniel Linares, a Pac 9 misclassified port truck driver, in a statement. “We aren’t going to back down now. We will continue suing and striking these companies until they end their unfair treatment and the industry abandons the misclassification scheme that allows these trucking companies to steal our wages and defraud the government.”
The ruling comes as Pac 9 drivers continue their sixth and ongoing strike to protest unfair labor practices. The strike began in July and remains indefinite, an effort to put an end to pervasive misclassification at the company.
“Misclassification, wage theft, and tax fraud has infested the port trucking industry, and the drivers are grateful to the California Labor Commissioner for scheduling back-to-back hearings in these cases,” said Fred Potter, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Director of the Teamsters Port Division, in a statement. “History has been made and change is on the horizon. Companies like Shippers Transport Express and Eco Flow Transportation have converted to an employee model and it is no longer ‘if’ but ‘when’ the $12 billion drayage industry will comply with the law.”
For more information about the port truck drivers’ campaign, click here.