Truck drivers and warehouse workers from companies serving the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports went on strike Monday morning to protest being classified as independent contractors, which they say is a scheme to deny them the compensation they’re due.
Barb Maynard, a representative for truckers and workers, said the strike involves several of the large companies that do transport business at the ports, including XPO Logistics, where workers began picketing about 6:35 a.m. at the company’s facility in Commerce.
About 8 a.m., the picketing expanded to “all marine terminals on both the L.A. and Long Beach side, as well as at Intermodal Container Transfer Facility-Port of Los Angeles,” she said.
“However, observers have seen only a few XPO trucks thus far doing business, and we’re starting to hear that the terminals are telling them not to come to the ports to avoid picket lines that disrupt the free flow of cargo,” Maynard said in a statement shortly before 10 a.m.
“They are among the largest companies serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach,” Maynard said of the firms being targeted.
According to the truckers’ earlier statement, they are protesting “exploitation by greedy corporations using predatory subcontracting schemes, including misclassifying employees as independent workers in order to lower wages, deny them benefits such as health insurance, unemployment, and workers’ compensation.”
The strike is the 15th at the ports in the last four years. Because of the large number of companies operating at the Port of Los Angeles, the strikes have had “minimal” effect on port operations, Phillip Sanfield, a Port of Los Angeles spokesman told the Los Angeles Times.
Representatives of the striking drivers charge that the underpayment schemes are designed to boost the compensation of CEOs.
“Over the past 10 years, CEO pay has increased 997 percent, driven in part by companies subcontracting out work. One of the most insidious corporate schemes is to classify employees as `independent contractors’,” according to the statement.
Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia recently announced a goal of requiring zero emission trucks at the ports by 2035.
“We support clean air, but there was no mention on how this Clean Air Action Plan would impact the drivers. We are concerned about who will end up paying for it,” said Eric Tate, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 848.
“The last time they did this in 2008 with the Clean Truck Program, the corporations ended up passing on the cost to the workers by requiring them to lease a truck in order to get hired and illegally misclassifying them as ‘independent contractors,’ leaving very little for the workers to take home to their families. We don’t want that to happen again,” he said.
—City News Service