Hanjin Shipping containers stacked up at the Port of Long Beach.

Hanjin Shipping containers stacked up at the Port of Long Beach. Photo by Ringo Chiu.

A group of truck drivers and warehouses workers set a date of June 19 for a strike at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

The pending action has garnered the support of Teamsters union Local 848 and Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino, who represents the San Pedro area.

“The truck drivers are asking to be recognized as employees instead of independent contractors so that they can get the wages they rightly worked for and workplace protections,” Nick Weiner, a spokesman for the Teamsters Local 848 and campaign director of the Justice for Port Drivers Campaign said.

This is the 15th strike from the group in the last four years. They are not all the same workers from the same company, some previous strikers and companies have reached an agreement, Weiner said.

The announcement on Thursday follows a joint signed agreement by Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia and L.A. Mayor Eric Garcetti. Both mayors pledged to continue fighting air pollution and global warming despite the recent move by President Trump who promised to withdraw the U.S. from the Paris Agreement, a pact focused on combatting climate change.

The mayors directed the ports to aim for the zero-emission goals in their Clean Air Action Plan. The nation’s first and second largest ports are to meet zero-emission cargo-handling equipment by 2030, and zero-emission trucks by 2035.

CAAP, which was first implemented in 2006, has greatly reduced air pollution at the ports over the last decade, but the ports remain the biggest air polluters in the region today. Sources of pollution at the ports include ships, trucks, trains and cargo-handling equipment.

Some independent contractors worry that the zero-emissions program will add costs to their operations.

“We think that’s a great idea, but there was no mention on how this would impact the drivers,” Eric Tate, secretary-treasurer for Teamsters union Local 848, said at the news conference Thursday morning. “Greedy corporations …continue to exploit hard-working men and women through abusive and often illegal contracting-out, misclassification, temporary staffing and wage theft schemes,” he said.

He added that when the ports enacted the Clean Trucks Program in 2008, which came out of the Clean Air Action Plan, to reduce diesel pollution, the drivers bore the bulk of the cost.

Manufacturing and trade reporter Shwanika Narayan can be reached at snarayan@labusinessjournal.com. Follow her on Twitter @shwanika.

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