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A week-long strike by truck drivers and warehouse workers at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports came to an end Friday after the strikers held a rally at L.A. City Hall.

The job action, planned to only last a week, culminated in the workers delivering what they said was a petition with nearly 10,000 signatures calling on Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia to end “indentured servitude” at the ports.

The workers, supported by the Teamsters, were protesting over being classified as independent contractors, which they say is a scheme to deny them just compensation.

“Corporations have pushed tens of millions of American truck drivers, warehouse workers and service sector workers into poverty through greedy subcontracting schemes designed to increase CEO pay,” said Fred Potter, vice president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and director of the Teamsters Port Division. “One of the most insidious corporate schemes is to misclassify employees as `independent contractors’ to dodge payroll taxes, (pay) lower wages, avoid paying benefits to workers and to evade the laws that protect American employees.

Ground zero in the fight to end toxic subcontracting is the Teamster- led fight to restore employee rights — including the right to become Teamsters — to approximately 12,000 non-union drivers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach who are misclassified as independent contractors,” Potter said.

The strike was the 15th at the ports in the past four years.

Rachel Campbell, a spokeswoman for the Port of Los Angeles, said the strike caused some traffic delays but did not slow down any cargo shipments.

The workers has also expressed concern over a plan recently announced by Garcetti and Garcia to require electric trucks at the ports by 2035, which they said the cost of could end up being passed on to them.

“Sustainability and economic prosperity are not mutually exclusive, and the mayor is committed to making sure that our truckers are not burdened unfairly with the costs of meeting these goals,” Garcetti said in a statement.

–City News Service

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