The Los Angeles County Board of Supervisors approved a motion by Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas on Tuesday to create a plan to implement five areas of action from the County Department of Consumer and Business Affairs Department (DCBA) that help employees, including Long Beach port truck drivers, filing claims for wage theft.
The LA County Board’s approval directs the DCBA to provide the plan to workers in 60 days that will provide educational resources to personnel, assist them in filing claims for wage theft and prohibit businesses that violate labor laws from business deals with LA County, a release issued Tuesday said. The plan also demands that the county support legislation to reform the drayage industry.
“The issue of wage theft is one that we should all be concerned about,” said Supervisor Mark Ridley-Thomas in a statement. “Businesses that follow the law should not be undercut by those that lower their labor costs by cheating.”
“This is wage theft in the extreme. It is illegal, and it is happening right under your noses, in unincorporated Los Angeles County,” said Felix Umaña, a port truck driver who drove for QTS Inc. before the company filed for bankruptcy and closed its doors. “You have the right to deny these companies business licenses. You have the right to demand these companies obey the law.”
Weston LaBar, the founding partner of PEAR Strategies and executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association (HTA), a coalition of shipping carrier companies, said those making claims of employee misclassification and wage theft are a small proportion of the port truck driver population.
“Truck driver misclassification is a much more isolated issue than has been represented,” LaBar said. “There are 16,000 drivers registered in the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and only approximately 550 claims of misclassification.”
LA and Long Beach port truck drivers picketed drayage companies as recently as April 27 to May 1. Drivers have repeatedly made allegations of wage theft and employee misclassification against the shipping companies.