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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
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November 20, 2014

Port drivers at LACA Express, QTS, and Win Win Logistics return to work after beginning productive conversations with their employers

Long Beach, CA – Late this afternoon, drivers at QTS Inc., LACA Express, and WinWin Logistics, ended their strike following productive confidential dialogue with the Teamsters and the three companies. The following statement was issued by Mayor Garcetti:

"As requested by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the Teamsters, QTS, Inc., LACA Express, Inc., and WinWin Logistics, Inc. have each separately agreed to continue discussions to resolve outstanding issues between them. All sides have expressed an interest in sitting down and continuing confidential discussions of these issues and challenges facing the drayage industry. QTS Inc., LACA Express, Inc. and WinWin Logistics, Inc. each respect drivers' right to choice with regard to unionization."

Like other striking drivers, port truck drivers at QTS Inc., LACA Express, and WinWin Logistics – as well as those at Pacer and Harbor Rail Transport who remain on strike at this hour – are striking to end misclassification as “independent contractors,” a scam that has led to massive wage theft and denied drivers basic workplace protections such as safety and health regulations, disability insurance, workers compensation, and unemployment insurance.

“We are grateful that Mayor Garcetti and the Teamsters have helped to bring our three employers to the table. We simply want to have the rights that all employees have and, for the first time, we have hope that hard work at the ports will pay,” said Ricardo Ceja, a misclassified “independent contractor” from LACA Express who has been on strike since Monday.

Over the past seven days, the port truck driver strike has spread from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to intermodal rail yards that dispatch cargo to and from warehouses and distribution centers across America. A majority of marine terminals at the Port of Los Angeles have turned away struck trucks, giving hope to striking port truck drivers fighting to change the drayage industry by ending illegal misclassification.

“Striking port drivers are on the front lines of the Teamsters’ fight against the war on workers, including the fight to stop wage theft through misclassification as “independent contractors.” Because of the drivers’ sacrifices, the support of drivers’ allies, and the help of Mayor Eric Garcetti, we are beginning to see change in the drayage industry and we pledge to support the drivers until justice is served,” said Fred Potter, International Vice President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Director, Teamsters Port Division.

These escalating actions come as the drayage industry has grown increasingly desperate and retaliatory; doing everything it can to hold onto a business model that relies on independent contractors. Multiple determinations – by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) and Employment Development Department (EDD), along with Region 21 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and a Federal District Court judge – have rendered the industry’s business model illegal.
 
Port truck drivers work long hours hauling nearly $4 billion worth of cargo every day, yet often receive paychecks below the minimum wage. These professional drivers – who transport imports from American seaports to warehouses, distribution centers, and rail yards for major retailers – are on the front lines of the fight for a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work. Unwilling to wait for the lawless industry to transform, drivers are rising up to improve their jobs and rebuild the ever diminishing middle-class.
 
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November 18, 2014

Truck driver strike spreads to intermodal rail yards from the docks, creating logistical nightmare before Black Friday

Commerce, CA – Early Tuesday morning, the port truck driver strike will spread from the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach to intermodal rail yards that are serviced by Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport (HRT). These rail yards dispatch cargo to and from warehouses and distribution centers across America. . Drivers intend to follow trucks from Pacer and HRT to customer locations, including the rail yards, and picket the trucks while they are working at those locations.  

Like drivers at QTS Inc., LACA Express, and WinWin Logistics that went on strike Monday, drivers at Pacer and HRT are striking to end misclassification as “independent contractors,” a scam that has led to massive wage theft and denied drivers basic workplace protections such as safety and health regulations, disability insurance, workers compensation, and unemployment insurance.

    “We are sick of being trampled upon and     mistreated,” said Humberto Canales, a     misclassified “independent contractor” from     Pacer Cartage. “We are joining the fight and     coming out of the shadows to demand our rights     as company employees to provide a better future     for our families.”

    “Now is the time to end this misclassification     scheme and provide a better future for our     families. These companies have gotten away          with this scam for too long. It’s time to make a     change,” said Alfredo Reyes of Harbor Rail     Transportation.

                                Monday, November 17, 2014

Ports of LA/Long Beach truck driver strike expands to three new drayage companies Monday, announce plans to strike two additional companies Tuesday; TTSI drivers announce end to strike at their company

This morning, the port truck driver strike at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach spread to three new drayage companies, exacerbating port congestion during the busy holiday period. At a Noon press conference, drivers announced the following:

  •     Drivers from QTS, Inc., LACA Express,     and WinWin Logistics, Inc. are on strike.
  •     Drivers from Pacer and Harbor Rail     Transport (HRT) intend to go on strike     Tuesday, Nov. 18,     2014.
  •     Drivers at TTSI, who resumed their strike     on Thursday, Nov. 13, 2014, announced     that they have made an unconditional     offer to return to work in good faith as     talks continue with their employer.

Strong picket lines have been up since early this morning at company yards. Additionally, hundreds of picketers have been awaiting trucks at nine marine terminals spanning the Ports of LA and Long Beach; however, seven of those terminals have been consistently turning away trucks from QTS, LACA Express, and WinWin Logistics. Picket lines have gone up at two terminals – ICTF and ITS – when trucks from the struck companies have entered the gates.

Drivers are striking to end misclassification as “independent contractors,” a scam that has led to massive wage theft and denied drivers basic workplace protections such as safety and health regulations, disability insurance, workers compensation, and unemployment insurance.  

    “We are sick of this misclassification scam,”     declared striking port driver Ricardo Ceja, a     misclassified “independent contractor” from     LACA Express. “We are coming out of the     shadows to demand our rights as company     employees to provide a better future for our     families.” 

Port truck drivers from Pac 9 and TTSI, who – along with Green Fleet Systems – were in a “cooling off” period negotiated in July 2014 by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, resumed picketing on Thursday, Nov. 13 (drivers from Green Fleet agreed to extend the cooling off period with their employer the night before due to productive conversations with the company owner). On Friday evening – after a day of dialogue facilitated by Mayor Garcetti – Pac 9 and TTSI drivers agreed to take down picket lines directed at those two companies. The following joint statement was issued by the Teamsters, TTSI, and Pac 9 on Friday, Nov. 14:

    "As requested by Mayor Eric Garcetti, the     Teamsters, TTSI and Pac9 have agreed to     continue their dialogue in an effort to resolve     outstanding issues between them. Both sides     have expressed a desire to sit down and     continue confidential discussions of these     issues and challenges facing the drayage         industry. TTSI and Pac9 have made clear that     they respect drivers' right to choice with regard     to unionization."

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