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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
Port Drivers Show Massive Violations of Mayor Garcetti's "cooling off" period!

September 2014

Los Angeles, CA – In July, port truck drivers at the nation’s largest port complex, the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, went on an indefinite unfair labor practice strike – the drivers’ fourth unfair labor practice 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 trucking companies Total Transportations Services Inc. (TTSI), Pacific 9 Transportation (Pac 9), and Green Fleet Systems to accept all drivers back to work without retaliation and without being forced to sign away all future rights in new truck leases. Despite commitments to Mayor Garcetti, the companies have continued – and even escalated – retaliatory activity, clearly violating the terms of the cooling off period. This retaliations were outlined in a press conference outside TTSI’s offices.

Also today, Region 21 of the National Labor Relations Board revoked a March 2014 settlement agreement with California-based Pacific 9 Transportation, Inc. (Pac 9) in which the company agreed that misclassified “independent contractor” drivers are legal employees, able to form a union, and entitled to federal labor law protections under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Subsequent to the company’s settlement agreement, Pac 9 sent a notice to drivers stating that the agreement did not apply to them, prompting an investigation by the NLRB, and resulting in today’s revocation of the settlement agreement. The Region has now issued a complaint in this matter.  

Summary of Retaliation Against Striking Port Truck Drivers

Green Fleet Systems, Total Transportation Systems Incorporated (TTSI), and Pacific 9 Transportation Incorporated (Pac 9) are taking steps to retaliate illegally against truck drivers who have asserted their rights as employees to file wage claims with the state, to take collective action, and to strike to protest unfair labor practices. Drivers have gone on four unfair labor practice strikes in the last year; the latest strike was July 7-11, 2014.

Total Transportation Systems Incorporated (TTSI)

On June 22, 2014, TTSI announced to its drivers that effective August 1, 2014, it would be terminating the leasing arrangement that had been in effect for over 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 wage claims* with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) or be terminated. The terminations were set to be effective August 1, 2014, but were delayed to September 1, 2014.  

Deductions continue: TTSI deducted its business expenses from drivers’ paychecks for the week of the strike. Drivers have been receiving major deductions for truck maintenance and other expenses resulting in low and potentially negative income.  
 Reduction in work: Drivers who have exercised their rights by filing DLSE claims and/or participating in the July 7-11 strike have reported a drastic reduction in the work that they are assigned by TTSI’s dispatch. Since they are only paid by the load – not by hours worked or waiting for dispatch – this has significantly reduced their incomes. An analysis of pre-strike and post-strike take home pay shows that, on average, drivers’ take home pay has decreased by 20.7% since the strike.

There are currently at least 29 TTSI drivers with pending DLSE claims. The total amount of wage theft claims against TTSI by drivers is approximately $4.8 million owed in back pay and damages. 

Pacific 9 Transportation (Pac 9)

Termination of Vocal Leaders: Pacific 9 excluded two of its most vocal union leaders, Douglas Herrera and Ervin Orellana, from its insurance on August 14, 2014, claiming that their driving records required the exclusion. This is essentially a firing and has led to fear and intimidation across the workforce. The company has stated to drivers that several other drivers may be excluded soon.  
Reduction of Work and Negative Paychecks: Since the cooling-off period began, many of the drivers who participated in the strike have had their work reduced, to the point that over a dozen drivers have received negative paychecks in the past month. Some drivers who are working are being hit with excessive maintenance charges that put them into negative territory. These drivers end up owing the company money that is then deducted from the next week’s check. At the same time, there is clear evidence that the company is subcontracting out work to other companies in order to reduce hours for the company’s own drivers.  

Green Fleet Systems (GFS)

After an exhaustive investigation into ongoing allegations made against GFS by its employee and misclassified “independent contract” drivers, the NLRB Region’s finding include more than 50 violations, including (but not limited to):
TERMINATING union activist employees MATEO MARES and AMILCAR CARDONA in retaliation for their union and other protected concerted activities, including filing wage claims at the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement;
Discriminating against employees MATEO MARES and AMILCAR CARDONA by denying work and creating more onerous working conditions in retaliation for engaging in union and/or protected concerted activities and in order to discourage union and protected concerted activities, union membership, and/or support for the union;
Threatening to terminate employees in retaliation for their union and other protected concerted activities;
Threatening to cease operations (plant closure) in retaliation for employees' union and other protected concerted activities;
Threatening to sue employees in retaliation for their union and other protected concerted activities;
Conditioning employees' ability to continue to work for the Employer on withdrawal of their wage and hour claims filed with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE);
Encouraging and/or permitting non-union supporter employees to harass, provoke, and/or assault union supporter employees;
Interrogating employees about their union and other protected concerted activities;

Since the strike, company executives and managers have continued to intimidate workers for exercising their right to form a union. Management has again been alleged to have discharged and suspended workers for their union activities.

PORT DRIVERS AGREE TO COOLING OFF PERIOD AT REQUEST OF LA MAYOR ERIC GARCETTI


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Read our latest media advisory below
Retaliation Press Conference, 8/29/14

Port Drivers reveal massive violations of Mayor Garcetti's "cooling off"period, including threats to fire drivers who don't withdraw wage theft claims and higher paycheck deductions.