Photo by John Schreiber.
Photo by John Schreiber.

The union representing striking truck drivers at the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex agreed Friday to resume labor negotiations with the two trucking firms targeted in job action in hopes of resolving the dispute.

The trucking companies — Total Transportation Systems Inc. and Pacific 9 Transportation — “have made clear that they respect drivers’ right to choice with regard to unionization,” according to a joint statement from the companies and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union.

“As requested by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Teamsters, TTI and Pac9 have agreed to continue their dialogue in an effort to resolve outstanding issues between them,” according to the statement. “Both sides have expressed a desire to sit down and continue confidential discussions of these issues and challenges facing the drayage industry.”

It was not immediately clear if the agreement to resume negotiations meant the truckers would end two days of picketing. Port officials said the picketing had minimal impact on cargo operations at the harbor.

The union contends the two trucking companies violated terms of a “cooling-off” period brokered by Garcetti in July by firing at least 35 employees and deducting from paychecks in retaliation. The union believes the drivers are improperly classified as contractors when they should be paid as full-time employees.

Garcetti — who leaves tonight for a 12-day trade mission to China, South Korea and Japan — met this afternoon with officials from Total Transportation Services to discuss the labor dispute. Members of his staff met with Pacific 9 officials.

Alex Cherin, a spokesperson for the two companies, earlier today declined to comment on the port drivers’ allegations.

Truckers picketed today outside four of the Port of Los Angeles’ nine terminals — the APL, Evergreen, China Shipping and NYK terminals. At the Port of Long Beach, picketers were at truck entrances for Pier G, Pier F and Pier T container terminals.

Operations continued at the terminals, but some trucks lines were longer than usual due to the picketing, port officials said.

“Port truck drivers are a critical link in our global economy and they deserve quality working conditions,” Garcetti said. “I appreciate those trucking companies who are having an honest dialogue about the issues that have led to the job action this week.”

Barbara Maynard of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said the drivers went on strike in July “to protest severe and continuing labor law violations — the drivers’ fourth such strike in a year.”

“After five days of picketing that dramatically impacted port operations … Garcetti brokered a ‘cooling off’ period, which included a critical agreement by companies to accept all drivers back to work without retaliation,” Maynard said. “Despite commitments to Mayor Garcetti, the companies have dramatically escalated retaliatory activity, clearly violating the terms of the cooling-off period.”

The alleged retaliatory moves include the firing of 35 drivers by Total Transportation Services because the drivers refused to withdraw their claims for “wage theft,” and “a dramatic increase in illegal deductions” from driver paychecks by Pac 9 Transportation, Maynard said.

City News Service

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