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Truckers Roll to City Hall : Labor: Thousands of drivers take convoy Downtown to call attention to their fight to be recognized as Communication Workers of America members.

TIMES STAFF WRITER

Hoping to get the City Council to recognize their grievances against shipping companies at Los Angeles Harbor, more than 3,000 truckers drove Downtown from San Pedro on Tuesday in an all-day convoy that stretched 30 miles, police said.

In what they called a “Convoy for Justice,” cargo haulers looped around City Hall with their diesel trucks and automobiles, hoping to win council support in their fight to win recognition as members of the Communication Workers of America.

For hours, truck drivers honked their booming horns and waved placards describing their plight at bewildered Downtown pedestrians.

“We Need Jobs With Justice!” read one sign attached to the front of a semi’s tractor.

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The drivers complained that they have been treated unfairly for years by terminal operators who refuse to acknowledge them as union members. They said they need recognition of their union in order to collectively bargain for higher wages, benefits and safer working conditions.

“We have guys who get hurt and they have no workers’ compensation,” said Alex Landers, a truck driver who helped organize the demonstration. “Others get sick and they have no kind of insurance. This is ridiculous.

In addition, Landers said, some companies intimidate drivers into accepting heavier loads than the 80,000 pounds allowed by the city.

“You can get three tickets a day if you haul those loads,” Landers said. “But some companies won’t let you haul anything for them if you refuse. Those in power must recognize these problems.”

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The City Council took note of the issues Tuesday by passing a resolution that “supports efforts . . . to alleviate the stressful conditions associated with the work of container haulers” at the port.

With that resolution, said Councilman Richard Alarcon, the city hopes the Los Angeles Port Commission will work with terminal operators to improve working conditions for the cargo haulers.

“The container haulers are critical to our overall economy,” Alarcon said. “They transport goods all over the region. We can’t have this kind of tension existing between them and the terminal operators because it would be to the detriment of all of us if something like a strike were to occur.”


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