While the West Coast ports work to clear the backlog collected during the months-long dockworker strike that was just resolved in February, the port truck drivers have taken their turn to protest.
Truck drivers who haul goods from the nation’s largest port complex—the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach—walked off the job Monday in protest against four trucking companies they accuse of wage theft by their misclassification of the drivers as independent contractors instead of employees.
On Monday, primary picket lines went up in company yards at Intermodal Bridge Transport (IBT), Pacific 9 Transportation (Pac 9), Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport, according to the Teamsters union, which supports the truckers. Truckers and their supporters are also picketing company trucks at marine terminals, rail yards and customer warehouses. The union estimated the number of drivers on strike totals several hundred.
Some are concerned the move will mean more delays at the ports if dockworkers choose to honor the strike.
Port of Los Angeles spokeperson Phillip Sanfield said, however, “Cargo and trucks are moving freely at the port today [Friday], and that has been the case all week. We have had up to 40 pickets at select terminals during the week. During those times, there were some minor traffic delays. All told, the impact on port operations this week has been minimal.”
Drivers also went on strike last November seeking reclassification to end what they’ve called “wage theft” as independent contractor classification means fewer workplace protections and lower pay since all tax liability falls on the worker. Since then, the Labor Department, California courts and other government agencies have ruled that drivers are in fact misclassified as independent contractors.
One drayage company, Shippers Transport Express has taken to reclassify drivers as employees, and other drivers are now seeking the same adjustment.
Hector Flores, a port truck driver for Intermodal Bridge Transport said, “We demand re-classification to employees. We know what we are doing is right, and we are not going to stop striking until these companies stop breaking the law.”