Hundreds of truckers who work at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach went on strike on Monday to protest what they called unfair labor practices.
The strike involves roughly 400 drivers working for Green Fleet Systems, Pacific 9 Transportation and Total Transportation Systems Inc. The question at the heart of the dispute between the drivers and their employers is whether drivers should be classified as independent contractors or employees.
Pacific 9 Transportation and Total Transportation Systems declined to comment. A spokesman for Green Fleet Systems could not be reached for comment.
Justice for LA/LB Port Truck Drivers, a group affiliated with the Teamsters union, announced the strike on Monday. Spokeswoman Barbara Maynard said the strike will go on indefinitely.
“They’ll stay out as long as it’s necessary,” she said.
Maynard contended that trucking firms have harassed drivers for pro-union activities and have also failed to pay all wages owed to drivers. She said there are more than 500 complaints for such alleged activity filed with the state’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Peter Melton, spokesman for the division, said 530 such complaints related to the question of whether port truckers have been misclassified as independent contractors have been filed, of which 347 are still active.
“If you are misclassified as an independent contractor, you incur expenses that you would not as an employee,” Melton said.
In March 2013, the firm Seacon Logix was ordered to pay nearly $108,000 in a case involving drivers who were misclassified as independent contractors.
The Los Angeles Times reported Saturday that cases involving 17 trucking firms have led to state labor officials declaring that close to 40 drivers had been misclassified as independent contractors . As a result, truckers have been assigned $4.3 million in back pay and penalties.
The announcement of a truckers’ strike comes as collective bargaining negotiations between Pacific Merchant Shipping Association, which represents West Coast ports and the International Longshore and Warehouse Union have continued past the expiration date.
For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.