Two previously fired port truck drivers returned to work Friday as employees of Green Fleet Systems in Long Beach, in what is seen by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters as a victory for harbor truckers.

Mateo Mares and Amicar Cardona, short-haul truck drivers at the local ports, were fired by Green Fleet earlier this year after protesting their classification as contract workers and alleging wage theft, among other concerns.

A federal judge ordered Green Fleet to reinstate the drivers in early October, but the company instead asked the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals to intercede. On Oct. 31, the court declined Green Fleet’s request.

As of Friday, Mares and Cardona have returned to the company as full employees, rather than contract workers.

Their reinstatement is the latest development in an ongoing battle between three local trucking companies and truck drivers who claim that they have been misclassified as independent contractors so that trucking firms can get around labor laws. Green Fleet, as well as Pacific 9 Transportation in Carson and Total Transportation Services Inc. in Rancho Dominguez, have denied the allegations and say the protests are an attempt by Teamsters to unionize drivers.

The Teamster-organized protests have ranged from wage-theft claims to strikes that disrupted the ports.

"Green Fleet has denied all allegations of unlawful conduct and we are working with NLRB to comply with the Court's Order," the company said in a statement. "We are not at liberty to discuss further details at this time."