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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 Truck Drivers on the Move!
August 2014

We are America’s port truck drivers, fighting for dignity, respect, and a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work. From coast to coast, we are uniting for justice and prepared to do whatever it takes to make the lifeblood of America’s supply chain – U.S. seaports – work for everyone. Here’s what’s happening this summer coast-to-coast:

Washington D.C.
On July 31, U.S. Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN) announced the introduction of the Employee Empowerment Act that would expand National Labor Relations Act protections for employees who are illegally fired for trying to organize their workplace. Port truck driver Alex Paz spoke on the steps of our nation’s capitol.

"I was fired by TTSI for standing up for my rights by filing a claim for wage theft and supporting the union. That’s an unfair labor practice and that’s why we went on strike on July 7. But we need more tools than just the picket line when the boss violates Federal labor laws. We need the ability to go to court to fight for our rights, and the courts need the ability to enforce the laws of the land. The Employee Empowerment Act will help protect not just me, but every single worker in America who is fighting for justice, for dignity, for respect," declared port truck driver Alex Paz at a press conference on the steps of the U.S. capitol.

The Employee Empowerment Act, which has 15 co-sponsors, would allow employees to sue and seek punitive and compensatory damages from employers who interfere with their right to organize. Ellison says the bill would give working Americans a “private right of action” to sue employers. The threat of a lawsuit “would make [employers] think twice before firing workers for organizing,” said Rep. Keith Ellison (D-MN).

Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach
Port truck drivers at the nation’s largest port complex went on indefinite unfair labor practice strikes beginning on July 7, 2014. After five days of clogged truck traffic and significantly delayed cargo at marine terminals, LA Mayor Eric Garcetti met with striking drivers from three of the region’s leading drayage firms, Green Fleet Systems, Pacific 9 Transportation, and Total Transportation Services, Inc. After listening to our concerns, Mayor Garcetti asked drivers to accept his request for a “cooling off” period to allow him and his staff time to investigate the pervasive labor law violations – and rampant misclassification – that have come to characterize the drayage industry across America.

Before accepting Garcetti’s request, drivers demanded that the LA Mayor secure trucking companies’ agreement that all strikers be allowed to return to work without retaliation, and without being forced to sign away all of our future rights in new truck leases. Once our demands were fully met, striking drivers voted unanimously to accept Mayor Garcetti’s request and pulled down our picket lines.

While in this “cooling off” period, drivers and our families are having trouble making ends meet. Despite the well-publicized fact that the ports are in the pre-holiday rush to get product onto the shelves of Target, Walmart, Costco, and other retail giants – and the recently publicized fact that the trucking industry is facing a serious driver shortage – our workload is being reduced. As misclassified “independent contractors” who get paid by the load, we are seeing workload shrink and expenses go up. The result? After a long week of being away from our families day and night, we are making just a few hundred dollars and even owing the company more than we have earned for the truck lease, insurance, truck parking, etc.

“With the support of my family, I walked the picket line to show that a handful of workers really can make a difference. Never again will we be silent and accept the harassment and indignities that our bosses inflict on us. We will not be intimidated. We will not be silent in our fight for our families and our dignity,” said Daniel Linares, a misclassified “independent contractor” at Pacific 9 Transportation.
This is a tough fight but we are not giving up. To help our families meet our basic needs during this just fight, our allies have set up a hardship fund to help with our basic bills like rent and electricity. Donations are tax deductible and can be made via http://laborcommunityservicesla.org/. Please donate today to help port truck drivers across America make the ports work for everyone!

Port of Savannah
In early July, port drivers serving the Port of Savannah organized a major action at the Georgia Port Authority, stepping up the fight to end driver misclassification. Like the majority of U.S. port truck drivers, Savannah drivers are misclassified as “independent contractors” in order for their employers to pass on their business expenses onto the shoulders of drivers who struggle to survive.

This action is an escalation in the ongoing fight at the Port of Savannah to change the port trucking industry and gain justice for drivers in Savannah and across the U.S. We delivered a letter to Curtis Foltz, Executive Director of the Georgia Port Authority, demanding that the port issue a public statement condemning illegal misclassification and meet with us to discuss how the Georgia Port Authority can take direct action against illegal misclassification and create good jobs for drivers at the Port of Savannah. Savannah Driver Carol Cauley told WSAV that “drivers have been, ‘misclassified,’ and in turn are living below the poverty line.”

Ports of New York/ New Jersey
In early August, New Jersey port truck drivers joined Congressman Donald Payne (NJ-1) and the National Employment Law Project (NELP) at a press conference to speak out publicly against misclassification and demand change. A recent NELP study has shown that "as many as 40% of employers in NJ misclassify their workers." This illegal scheme has resulted in trucking companies dodging taxes and passing on the costs of truck maintenance onto drivers like us. The millions of dollars that are lost in this illegal scheme could be used to create good jobs and make much need improvements to local and national infrastructure.

This illegal misclassification scheme also makes it hard to compete for trucking companies who follow the law and properly classify drivers as employees. Lynford Lawrence, port truck driver for Toll Global Forwarding and member of Teamsters Local 469, said “I am one of the very few company drivers who work at the port. But I work alongside so many other drivers who are misclassified that it creates unfair competition for my employer. I am affected. And now my company is increasing the number of misclassified independent contractors because that is what the competition is doing. And that is only driving standards down. For legitimate employees like me – our jobs are at stake.” 

Like our sisters and brothers at seaports across America, we are escalating our fight to change the port trucking industry and make U.S. seaports work for everyone.
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.