Truckers Stage Noisy Protest of Dock Wages

More than 300 truckers staged a protest today against wages and working conditions on the Los Angeles and Long Beach docks by driving the cabs of their rigs in a noisy convoy through the two harbors and along the Long Beach Freeway to the Santa Fe railroad yard in downtown Los Angeles.

Police said the 2 1/2-hour protest was orderly and did not tie up street traffic or block entrances at the harbors. The drivers, leaning on their horns and waving thumbs-up signs out of their cab windows, allowed other truckers picking up loads free access to the harbor berths.

The protest was staged by independent truckers from the Long Beach area who haul containers of overseas goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to the downtown railroad yard. The truckers are in the process of joining the Long Beach Teamsters Union local and plan to negotiate improvements in wages and working conditions on the dock, a Teamsters official said.

Teamsters spokesman Monte Ogden said pay rates for the harbor truckers have dropped from as much as $80 a trip a few years ago, to $40 to $55 today. Drivers were formerly paid $20 an hour for waiting time at the docks but now receive no compensation for waits that may last as long as four hours, he said.

"This is what they've put together to call attention to the problem and demonstrate the unity they've put together," Ogden said.

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