Los Angeles, CA – Early Friday morning, port truck drivers from two leading drayage firms –Total Transportation Services Inc. (TTSI) and Pacific 9 Transportation (Pac 9) – resumed picketing at company offices and marine terminals at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Despite an impending meeting between TTSI, the fired drivers, and the Teamsters announced by LA Mayor Eric Garcetti on Thursday, TTSI drivers remain on strike; only drivers from Green Fleet Systems are in a “cooling off” period.
Drivers are demanding the following (which was delivered in a petition earlier this week):
- STOP misclassifying drivers as “independent contractors,” stop deducting business expenses from our paychecks like fuel, insurance, and truck inspections and repairs, and end wage theft.
- REMOVE obstacles to basic American workplace protections, including safety and health regulations, disability insurance, workers compensation, and unemployment insurance.
- ELIMINATE the illegal barriers to unionization, including misclassification as “independent contractors,” retaliation, harassment, and union busters (also called union avoidance consultants).
- PAY US a fair wage for every hour worked, including waiting for dispatch to give us a load, sitting in traffic on the road to the company’s customer, and waiting in line at the ports.
In July, drivers went on an indefinite strike to protest severe and continuing labor law violations – the drivers’ fourth such strike in a year. After five days of picketing that dramatically impacted port operations and garnered international media attention, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti brokered a “cooling off” period, which included a critical agreement by companies to accept all drivers back to work without retaliation. Despite commitments to Mayor Garcetti, the companies have dramatically escalated retaliatory activity, clearly violating the terms of the cooling off period. These retaliations include the firing of 35 drivers by TTSI for refusing the withdraw their claims for wage theft and publicly denounce the Teamsters Union and a dramatic increase in illegal deductions from driver paychecks by Pac 9, leaving some drivers with negative paychecks – and many working below minimum wage.
These escalating actions come as the drayage industry is growing increasingly desperate and retaliatory; doing everything it can – including unending retaliation in flagrant violation of U.S. labor laws – to hold onto a business model that relies on misclassified independent contractors. Multiple determinations – by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement and Employment Development Department, Region 21 of the National Labor Relations Board, and Federal District Judge – have all rendered the industry’s business model illegal. These companies are continuing to retaliate against their employees for engaging in union and protected concerted activities. They are threatening and otherwise intimidating, restraining, and coercing employees for exercising their rights under the National Labor Relations Act.
Port truck drivers work long hours hauling nearly $4 billion worth of cargo every day, yet often receive paychecks below the minimum wage. These professional drivers, who transport imports from American seaports for companies like Walmart, Home Depot, Target, and Polo/Ralph Lauren, are on the front lines of the fight to end wage theft through misclassification as “independent contractors.” Unwilling to wait for the lawless industry to transform, drivers are rising up, to improve their jobs and rebuild the ever diminishing middle-class.