After years of port truck drivers asking for the Long Beach City Council to take action against alleged wage-theft occurring at the Port of Long Beach it appears that the council is prepared to start the process of finding a solution.
During next Tuesday’s council meeting Mayor Robert Garcia will direct the council to align its state and federal legislative agendas to support better working conditions at the port. He will also request the city attorney to work with the state’s labor commissioner and the attorney general’s office to support regulatory enforcement and request meetings be held by city commissions with the goal of finding solutions to the port trucking misclassification crisis.
The item is being supported by Councilwomen Lena Gonzalez and Jeannine Pearce.
“We must address the trucking crisis at our ports,” Garcia said in a statement earlier this week. “Port leadership and industry experts all agree that we cannot sustain the current trucking system. While there are some great trucking companies, hundreds of employees have been misclassified and too many drivers are working for poverty wages. We need to ensure that labor laws are followed and that truckers earn a living wage.”
Garcia pledged to address the issue during his annual state of the city address last month. Those comments came one day after it was reported that the Los Angeles City Attorney had filed lawsuits against three truck companies operating at the port complex shared by LA and Long Beach for misclassifying workers.Over the past few years port truck drivers have intermittently come to the council chambers to share their grievances over lost wages and pushed for a wage theft element to be adopted by the city during its deliberations of raising the minimum wage.
Strikes by affected port truck drivers and a series of stories reported by USA Today have helped keep the issue on the political radar in the past year. The USA Today series highlighted that the abuses suffered by some port truck drivers have led to some working 20-hour days and taking home little pay due to their independent contractor status and rent-to-own contracts they’re often forced to sign in order to drive the trucks they need for work.
Congressional Democrats took steps in October to introduce legislation at the federal level to try and curb such practices. Long Beach Congressman Alan Lowenthal said the bill would ensure that port drivers would have basic rights.
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