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Port Truck Drivers
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Drivers at Shippers Transport Express ratify union contract with health care and 17 percent pay raise!

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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
As labor unrest gros, port drivers call for comprehensive industry reform

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From Huffington Post, Feb. 23, 2015

Espanol aqui

Port Driver Efforts Show the Long, Hard Fight for Justice
By James P. Hoffa, General President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Over the last 18 months, port truck drivers at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have dramatically escalated their decades-long struggle against trucking companies. These employers have misclassified them as independent contractors, which is just a wonky way of saying they engage in wage theft. But after going on strike on five separate occasions, something remarkable is happening to these drivers backed by the Teamsters -- they're winning.

In the last month alone, drivers for Pacer Carthage and Shippers Transport Express (STE) have had their concerns validated and are now being recognized as company employees under the law. Seven Pacer drivers won a $2 million claim against the company in San Diego County court, while STE agreed to classify drivers as employees. After voting to join Local 848, the union reached an agreement with STE management and drivers ratified their first union contract.

These are two important positive steps -- but the war is far from over. During recent labor unrest involving the longshoremen, for example, the Pacific Maritime Association shut the twin ports down temporarily. But misclassified drivers still had to keep paying their employers' business expenses like truck leases, maintenance and insurance. That dug these workers deeper into an economic hole.

The port truck industry is highly fragmented, poorly organized and grossly inefficient. Deregulation has forced trucking companies to engage in cutthroat competition. Consequently, many are gearing up to fight the efforts of drivers and the Teamsters to organize and receive a fair wage. Luckily, more and more decision makers are beginning to side with workers.

Port truck drivers in California have benefitted from state and local government officials who are increasingly siding with workers instead of corporate interests. The Teamsters have allies in both Gov. Jerry Brown and Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, for instance. But there are signs that others elsewhere are also seeing the light.

Earlier this year, the New Jersey Supreme Court issued an important ruling that limited the ability of companies to misclassify workers in the state. The ruling affects not only port truck drivers, but any workers whose employers deemed them independent contractors. And a bipartisan collection of lawmakers in Georgia are currently working to strengthen the misclassification rules on the books there as well.

That is important, because the issue of low pay is not just a port truck driver problem -- it is an American problem. This nation's descent into a country sharply divided by income not only hurt those receiving less in their paychecks, it hinders the U.S. economy. It is in everyone's best interest to having a thriving middle class, but that won't happen unless workers are treated fairly.

In the port trucking industry alone, a report released by the National Employment Law Project, Change to Win and others last year found that two-thirds of the workers in the sector were being misclassified as contractors. That's 50,000 workers nationwide. The failure to treat these people as permanent workers resulted in a loss of $1.4 billion in tax revenue a year.

Southern California drivers, fed up with being treated as orphans in the global supply chain, have reached out to educate government officials on their rights as workers. With the backing of the Teamsters, the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and other community groups, over the past few months drivers have won unemployment benefits after being laid off from their jobs. Drivers are also winning disability and workman's compensation cases, back pay for illegal deductions, and even their jobs back when they were illegally fired.

The LA/Long Beach port truck drivers fight is just one example of how the Teamsters and our allies are pushing back against the war on workers. It shouldn't have to be this difficult. But it shows how hardworking Americans, when united and committed, can bring fairness and justice to the workplace.

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Justice for Port Drivers' Hardship Fund!