Port truck drivers strike against four companies

Truck driver strike begins, might affect L.A. and Long Beach ports still rebounding from dockworker dispute

Some truck drivers who haul goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach walked off the job Monday, launching a protest against four trucking firms they accuse of wage theft.

Picket lines went up outside the trucking yards of Pacific 9 Transportation, Intermodal Bridge Transport, Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport, said Barb Maynard, a spokeswoman for the Teamsters union, which is supporting the truckers.

Maynard estimated the number of drivers striking at several hundred. Nearly 14,000 drivers serve both ports, and about 1,000 trucking companies are registered to do so, a Long Beach port spokesman said.

In Monday's job action, picket lines will move to port terminals if trucks from the struck firms enter those facilities, potentially hurting the flow of goods if dockworkers choose to honor the pickets.

The protest is the latest in a series of job actions against harbor-area trucking firms. The drivers argue that they are improperly classified as independent contractors, leaving them with fewer workplace protections and lower pay than if they were company employees.

They've won several rulings lately in the courts and by government agencies agreeing they had been misclassified.

Last fall a federal court ruled that drivers from Shippers Transport Express were actually employees, a distinction that allowed them to unionize and join the Teamsters.

On Monday, the Teamsters said they reached a “labor peace” agreement with Green Fleet Systems, which had been targeted in previous job actions.

A spokesman for Pacific 9 said the company “has met and will continue to meet with the Teamsters and drivers to discuss these issues.” A spokesman for Pacer and Harbor Rail said “the vast majority” of the companies’ independent contractors “value the significant benefits of operating independently.”

Intermodal Bridge Transport could not be reached for comment. 

The strike comes as the ports work to recover from a prolonged labor dispute between dockworkers and shipping companies that clogged the twin trade gateways.

Previous trucker strikes have had little effect on port operations. Spokesmen for both ports said all terminals remained Monday afternoon and cargo was flowing smoothly. 

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Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATES

3:25: This story has been updated with additional detail.

10:35 a.m. This story has been updated with additional detail.

9:20 a.m.: This story has been updated with additional detail.

This story was first published at 8:37 a.m.

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