Three of five trucking companies targeted this week by picketing drivers serving the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports have agreed to discuss labor disagreements and to “resolve outstanding issues” with their drivers, according to a joint statement released Thursday.
“As requested by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Teamsters, QTS Inc., LACA Express Inc. and WinWin Logistics Inc. each have separately agreed to continue discussions to resolve outstanding issues between them,” the statement said. “All sides have expressed an interest in sitting down and continuing confidential discussions of these issues and challenges facing the drayage industry.”
The three companies “respect drivers’ right to choice with regard to unionization,” according to the statement which says the picketing drivers have, in turn, decided to end their strike against the firms.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters and port drivers had turned their attention to the three drayage firms on Monday, after agreeing the week before to stop picketing of three other companies, Total Transportation Services Inc., Pacific 9 Transportation and Green Fleet Systems.
The picketers contend all six companies targeted misclassify drivers as independent contractors, when they should have been paid as full employees. As contracted workers, the drivers’ paychecks often fall below the minimum wage, even though truckers are known to haul as much as $4 million of cargo each day, union officials said.
Richard Ceja, one of the picketing truck drivers contracted by LACA Express, said he was grateful for the union and the mayor’s efforts to bring the parties to the table.
“We simply want to have the rights that all employees have and, for the first time, we have hope that hard work at the ports will pay,” Ceja said.
While the picketing disrupted the operations of each of the businesses, the job actions did not affect the movement of cargo at the Port of Los Angeles, according to the mayor’s office.
Fred Potter, international vice president of the Teamsters and the director of the union’s port division, said the striking port drivers “are on the front lines of the Teamsters’ fight against the war on workers, including the fight to stop wage theft through misclassification as independent contractors.”
“Because of the drivers’ sacrifices, the support of drivers’ allies and the help of Mayor Eric Garcetti, we are beginning to see change in the drayage industry and we pledge to support the drivers until justice is served,” Potter said.
Today’s joint statement did not address picketing targeting two other companies, Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport. Those job actions began early Tuesday at the Union Pacific rail yard in the City of Commerce and involved intermodal facilities serviced by the two companies. Picketers also targeted the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility in Long Beach.
The recent round of job actions broke out after the union contended two trucking companies — Total Transportation Services Inc. and Pacific 9 Transportation — violated terms of a “cooling-off” period brokered by Garcetti in July by firing at least 35 employees and deducting from paychecks in retaliation.
— City News Service
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