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Port Truck Drivers
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Port Trucking:
The Broken Link in America's Supply Chain
Heavy-duty trucks hauling containers of imported goods fill the highways between America’s seaports and retailers’ distribution centers and U.S. military bases. Driving these 80,000+ pound big rigs safely requires great skill, patience, and concerted effort. The port trucking industry, however, clings to an unlawful business model that rewards their retail clients with low drayage rates yet inflicts untold harm on:

  • The air quality of harbor communities;
  • The safety of drivers on regional highways; and,
  • The welfare of port truck drivers and their families.

Trucking companies’ pervasive misclassification of drivers as 
“independent contractors” is in violation of state and federal 
labor laws. This scheme, which has benefited from lax enforcement, 
robs our schools, public safety and criminal justice services, and 
even our military services of necessary funding.

It is industries like port trucking that have directly led to a wage crisis in America. The ranks of low wage workers are rapidly expanding, and the income gulf between the wealthiest Americans – like the Waltons of Walmart and the Greenbergs of Skechers Shoes – and the everyday worker is getting wider with each quarterly economic report. Across America and at our nation’s seaports, low wage workers are rising up and demanding change.

How the “Independent Contractor” Scheme is creating poverty in America

Like many U.S. jobs that have deteriorated, port truck driving was once a stable, middle-class, union job. With trucking deregulation 30 years ago, a shadowy network of contract trucking companies that illegally classify their company drivers as “independent contractors” was born. Port trucking wages alone fell 30 percent from 1980, when independent contracting was rare, to 1995 when it was dominant.

Business consultants encourage the use of independent contractors over employees, routinely stating that a company can reduce costs and increase profits by 30-40 percent by avoiding classifying worker as employees. But with port trucking, the savings are even greater. Using independent contractors allows trucking companies to shift the vast majority of the cost of doing business – truck leases, insurance, fuel, maintenance, etc. – onto the backs of the drivers. Simply put, port driver misclassification defrauds drivers, local economies, and public coffers.

Today, 82 percent of port truck drivers are misclassified by their employers as independent contractors. The vast majority would be considered employees under common legal definitions. Independent contractor drivers:

  • Report average net incomes 18 percent lower than employee drivers.
  • Are two-and-a-half times less likely to have health insurance.
  • Are nearly three times less likely to have any form of retirement benefits.

The independent contract scheme has driven down wages for employee drivers. Despite the professional skills and qualifications required to perform the duties of a port truck driver, even employee drivers – who are roughly 18 percent of the industry – do not receive professional wages or benefits. After working 50-60 hours a week, drivers struggle to support their families, and many qualify for government assistance and are forced to use public medical services.

Restoring port truck driving to a quality job: the myth behind the cost

Port trucking companies move enormous amounts of goods through the American supply chain. In 2011, $1.73 trillion worth of imports and exports – more than 11 percent of the total U.S. GDP – were shipped through U.S. seaports and hauled off-dock by port truck drivers. 

An industry trade association spokesperson was recently quoted as saying that the American consumer could not afford the cost of improving the wages of port truck drivers. That is a myth that is based in rhetoric, not in reality. The cost of drayage is a drop in the bucket for the giant retailers who own the cargo. Lifting port drivers out of poverty add just 4/10ths of a penny onto the cost of a $75 pair of shoes.

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El Transporte Portuario:
El Eslabón Roto en la Cadena de Suministro de los Estados Unidos

Camiones pesados transportando contenedores de mercancías importadas llenan las carreteras entre los puertos de los Estados Unidos y los centros de distribución de los minoristas y las bases militares de los Estados Unidos. Conducir estos camiones de 80,000 libras con seguridad requiere mucha habilidad, paciencia y esfuerzo. La industria del transporte portuario, sin embargo, se aferra a un modelo de negocio ilegal que premia a sus clientes minoristas con bajas tasas de acarreo e inflige un daño incalculable en:

  • La calidad del aire de las comunidades portuarias;
  • La seguridad de los choferes en las carreteras regionales y,
  • El bienestar de los choferes del puerto y de sus familias.

La mal clasificación de choferes como “contratistas independientes” por compañías de transporte es una violación de las leyes laborales estatales y federales. Esta estafa, que se ha beneficiado de la aplicación laxa, roba nuestras escuelas, seguridad pública y servicios de justicia penal, e incluso nuestros servicios militares de los fondos necesarios.

Son industrias como el transporte portuario que han conducido directamente a una crisis salarial en América. Las filas de los trabajadores de bajos salarios se están expandiendo rápidamente, y el golfo de ingresos entre los estadounidenses más ricos - como los Walton de Wal-Mart y los Greenbergs de Skechers Shoes - y el trabajador cotidiano es cada vez más amplia, con cada informe económico trimestral. A través de América y en los puertos marítimos de nuestro país, los trabajadores de bajos salarios están exigiendo cambios.

Como la estafa de " Contratistas Independientes " esta creando pobreza en América

Al igual que muchos puestos de trabajo de Estados Unidos que se han deteriorado, conducir un camión del puerto fue una vez un trabajo de unión estable de clase media. Con la desregulación de la industria de transporte hace 30 años, nació una red oscura de empresas de transporte por carretera de contrato que clasifican ilegalmente sus conductores de la compañía como "contratistas independientes”. Los Salarios de choferes del puerto cayeron 30 por ciento desde 1980, cuando la contratación independiente era rara, hasta 1995, cuando era dominante.

Asesores y consultores empresariales alientan el uso de contratistas independientes sobre los empleados, de forma rutinaria que indica que una empresa puede reducir los costos y aumentar las ganancias en un 30-40 por ciento evitando la clasificación de los trabajadores como empleados. Sin embargo, con el transporte portuario, el ahorro es aún mayor. Utilizando contratistas independientes permite a las empresas de transporte desplazar la mayor parte del costo de hacer negocios - arrendamiento de camiones, seguros, combustible, mantenimiento, etc. - sobre las espaldas de los choferes. En pocas palabras, la mal clasificación de choferes del puerto defrauda a los choferes, las economías locales, y las arcas públicas.

Hoy en día, el 82 por ciento de los choferes del puerto están mal clasificados por sus empleadores como contratistas independientes. La gran mayoría se considerarían empleados bajo definiciones legales comunes. Choferes contratistas independientes:

  • Reportan ingresos netos con un promedio de 18 por ciento más bajos que los choferes que son clasificados como empleados.
  • Tienen dos veces y - una-mitad menos probabilidades de tener seguro de salud.
  • Son casi tres veces menos propensos a tener algún tipo de beneficios de jubilación.

La estafa de los contratistas independiente ha reducido los salarios de los choferes empleados. A pesar de las competencias y calificaciones profesionales requeridas para llevar a cabo las funciones de un chofer del puerto, incluso los choferes empleados - que son más o menos el 18 por ciento de la industria - no reciben salarios o beneficios profesionales. Después de trabajar 50 a 60 horas a la semana, los choferes tienen dificultades para mantener a sus familias, y muchos califican para la ayuda del gobierno y se ven obligados a utilizar los servicios médicos públicos.

Restaurando la conducción de camiones del puerto a un trabajo de calidad: el mito detrás del costo

Compañías de transporte portuario mueven enormes cantidades de bienes a través de la cadena de suministro estadounidense. En el 2011, $1,730 mil millones de dólares en importaciones y exportaciones - más del 11 por ciento del total del PIB de EE.UU. - fueron enviados a través de los puertos marítimos de los Estados Unidos y fue transportado fuera de muelle por los choferes del puerto.

Un portavoz de la asociación de la industria, fue citado recientemente diciendo que el consumidor estadounidense no podía pagar el costo del incremento de los salarios de los choferes del puerto. Eso es un mito que se basa en la retórica, no en la realidad. El costo de acarreo es una gota en el mar de los grandes minoristas que son dueños de la carga. Sacar a los choferes del puerto de la pobreza añadiría sólo 4/10 decimas de un centavo en el costo de un par de zapatos de $75
Justice for Port Drivers News
BREAKING NEWS

Fired TTSI driver, misclassified as an "independent contractor," received unemployment benefits reserved
 for "employees."

California EDD Ruling
October 29, 2014

Port trucking industry dealt another blow

Illegally fired “independent contractor” port truck driver awarded $9,000 in unemployment benefits by California EDD, confirming employee status

Los Angeles, CA – In September 2014, more than 35 misclassified “independent contractor” port truck drivers who participated in recent unfair labor practice strikes and filed “wage and hour” claims with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) were fired by their employer, Total Transportation Services Inc. (TTSI), when they refused to acquiesce to the company’s illegal demand to withdraw their claims for wage theft as misclassified “independent contractors.”

This week, the first of the fired drivers, Yesenia Rivas, was awarded $9,000 in unemployment benefits by the California Employment Development Department (EDD) – benefits that are only available to “employees,” not “independent contractors.”

“Once again, the authorities have affirmed that port truck drivers misclassified as “independent contractors” are in fact employees. This recent decision has dealt another blow to the illegal misclassification scam used in the port trucking industry to lower business costs, avoid paying taxes, and prevent unionization,” declared Fred Potter, Director, Teamsters Port Division, and International Vice President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

"I fought back against wage theft and I openly supported the union and for that I was fired. Now we are breaking the barriers to justice. I am an employee, not an independent contractor. I have rights!" said fired TTSI driver Yesenia Rivas after she received her award letter from the EDD this week.

In July, port truck drivers at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach went on an indefinite strike 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 and garnered international media attention, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti brokered a “cooling off” period, which critically included an agreement by TTSI (and other companies) to accept all drivers back to work without retaliation and specifically without being forced to sign away all future rights in new truck leases (see next paragraph). Despite commitments to Mayor Garcetti, the company has dramatically escalated retaliatory activity, clearly violating the terms of the cooling off period.

Two weeks prior to the July strike – on June 22, 2014 – TTSI announced to its drivers that effective Aug.1, 2014, it would be terminating the leasing arrangement that had been in effect for more than five years. Instead, drivers would be required to provide their own trucks, either by switching over to a third-party leasing intermediary or by financing or purchasing a truck through some other means. In addition, drivers would also have to sign a new “independent contractor agreement” and withdraw their claims for wage theft with the DLSE or be terminated. The terminations were set to be effective Aug. 1, 2014, but were delayed to Sept. 1, 2014. On Aug. 29, the last working day before the deadline, drivers attempted to meet with the company to sign the new leases so they could continue working but were told to return on Sept. 2. When they met with the company on Sept. 2, they were initially told that they would not be required to withdraw their DLSE claims, and in fact, some drivers signed the new lease agreements and were dispatched to the ports for work. However, while other drivers were awaiting their turn to sign, the company abruptly changed course and demanded withdrawal of all DLSE claims.

On Aug. 26, 2014, the Long Beach office of the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) issued an Order of Decision or Award (ODA) for claims heard on June 18, 2014, for fourteen (14) truck drivers who work for Total Transportation Systems, Inc. (TTSI). These determinations found the following:

​•The company failed to prove that the drivers are legitimately classified as independent contractors. As such, the DLSE determined that all fourteen drivers were employees and that the massive deductions from drivers' paychecks of money for fuel, insurance, parking, and other TTSI business expenses were illegal and are owed to the drivers.

•These illegal deductions were added to the sum of damages for unpaid waiting time and rest and meal breaks not provided to drivers over three years. These awards sum to an amount of $954,953.62 (average of $68,211 per driver).

•These are not the first or the last such claims. The company was found to be misclassifying two other drivers in 2013, finding them to be employees and awarding them almost $200,000. There are more than 30 additional claims pending hearings at DLSE. The total amount of wage theft claims against TTSI by drivers is approximately $4.8 million owed in back pay and damages.

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For more information on the port truck drivers’ campaign, visit www.JusticeForPortDrivers.org. Follow us on Twitter @PORTDRIVERUNION. 
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