Truck drivers who work at the Port of Los Angeles went on strike Monday against Universal Logistics Holdings for allegedly firing drivers after voting to form a union and committing labor law violations.
Striking workers formed a picket line outside ULH’s Southern Counties Express trucking yard, at 2880 E. Las Hermanas St. in Compton, Monday morning.
The group is demanding that the trucking companies owned by ULH:
— rehire fired drivers and provide them with back pay;
— respect the drivers’ right to form a union;
— bargain in good faith for a collective-bargaining agreement; and
— stop classifying drivers as independent contractors.
ULH could not immediately be reached for a response. The Port of Los Angeles said that the strike did not have an immediate impact on the port’s cargo traffic as of Monday morning, and all cargo terminals and truck gates remained open.
“Port of Los Angeles Police are available to assist in making sure that all parties are able to express their First Amendment rights while also ensuring the Port continues to operate safely and efficiently,” a port official said.
According to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, ULH/Universal Intermodal Services fired drivers who were organizing to form a union in late 2019. The Teamsters also allege that ULH transferred work from a unionized ULH company to ULH’s Southern Counties Express, which the Teamsters allege misclassified drivers in an effort to avoid unionization.
Southern Counties Express did not immediately return City News Service’s request for a response.
Following the strike Monday morning, the Teamsters said on Twitter, “Throughout the pandemic, hardworking truck drivers have delivered for our communities. Many of them got sick because (ULH) affiliated companies refused to get them the supplies they needed to stay healthy. They must stop exploiting workers.”
On March 15, truck drivers who work for ULH’s Container Connection filed a complaint with Cal/OSHA alleging the company failed to protect drivers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Teamsters also allege that Container Connection misclassified drivers as independent contractors, denying them sick leave, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, worker compensation and health insurance.
“Port truck drivers are essential workers. But (ULH) companies have treated them badly and illegally classified them as independent contractors. Unacceptable. It’s time to stand in solidarity with the port truck driver #strike,” the Teamsters wrote on Twitter.
According to the Teamsters, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division found that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act following an investigation from 2009-2011. Investigators found that 103 drivers were misclassified and not given minimum wage, the union reported.
Eleven Container Connection drivers received $2.2 million for wage theft damages following a 2016 final court judgment, and the company faced six other misclassification lawsuits in California state courts, according to the union.
It also said there were an additional 12 wage and hour misclassification claims at the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Container Connection could not immediately be reached for a statement.