Port truck drivers’ strike continues

by Laura Clawson

Port truck drivers on strike in California.

More than 120 truck drivers continue their strike at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. The drivers are targeting three companies that they say misclassify them as independent contractors when they are effectively employees, denying them minimum wage and overtime protections, Social Security and workers’ compensation, and other benefits. Additionally, workers say they’ve faced retaliation and intimidation over their activism. So far, the strike’s impact on the two massive ports remains small, though Tuesday:

In a brief escalation of the day-old strike, dockworkers walked off the job at the Evergreen, APL and Yusen terminals in Los Angeles around 9 a.m., and at the Long Beach Container Terminal an hour later, port officials said.But an arbitrator quickly ruled that the dockworkers’ contract didn’t allow them to leave the job in sympathy with the drivers strike. A similar ruling was issued during a 48-hour trucker strike in April.

Los Angeles port spokesman Phillip Sanfield said the port was operating “near normal” despite minor disruptions from the protests.

 


The three companies targeted by the strike—Total Transportation Services Inc., Green Fleet Systems, and Pacific 9 Transportation—are predictably blaming the strike on “outside interests,” because workers just routinely risk their livelihoods to do the bidding of “outsiders” even when they themselves are well treated and well paid. That’s totally a thing that happens. And despite that dismissal of the strike’s motivations, the industry that relies on port trucking isn’t dismissing the possible impacts if the strike grows:

“Everybody uses those ports … retailing, manufacturing, agriculture,” said Jonathan Gold, a supply chain expert for the National Retail Federation, a trade group.”They are very important ports and disruptions will be felt far and wide.”

While the truck drivers are facing off against powerful companies, organizing efforts have had some victories at the ports.

Laura Clawson reports on labor issues for Daily Kos, where this post appeared.

Video from “Justice for Port Drivers”.

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