LA ILWU Longshoremen Ordered Back To Work After Joining Trucker Strike Backed By Teamsters
By Angelo Young@firstname.lastname@example.org
on July 08 2014 5:48 PM
Truck drivers from companies that haul cargo from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach start a two-day strike to protest alleged labor violations in front of Long Beach Container terminal in Long Beach, California April 28, 2014. On Monday a similar strike began, the fourth of its kind in the past year. Reuters/Kevork Djansezian
Amid delicate negotiations that will determine the flow of a third of all U.S. cargo container traffic for the coming months, dozens of longshore workers at two of the country’s busiest ports were ordered back to work Tuesday after they walked off the job in solidarity with a group of fed-up truck drivers.
The longshore workers returned to their jobs at about 11 a.m. at the Port of Los Angeles and the adjoining Port of Long Beach after a federal arbitrator said their walk-off was against their contract.
The workers began a strike on Monday to express solidarity with about 120 truck drivers backed by Teamsters Local 848 who claim they are improperly classified by their employers as contract workers. Unlike direct employees, contract workers are typically paid less, bear higher payroll deductions and receive fewer if any benefits than regular employees.
The drivers work for three nearby companies, Green Fleet Systems, Total Transportation Services Inc. and Pacific 9 Transportation, which handle cargo to and from the ports. It’s the fourth such protest in the past year, including a two-day strike in April. Drivers were seen picketing the truck yards and following drivers from these companies to and from the ports.
"Green Fleet is discouraged to learn that outside interest groups have again decided to block the rights of these drivers to go to work and earn a living,” the company said in an email sent to IBTimes on Tuesday. “The fact is that an overwhelming majority of contractors and drivers affiliated with Green Fleet don't want these groups involved in their work.”
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU), which represents the workers keeping cargo flowing through 30 West Coast ports, is currently in talks to renew a six-year contract with the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), which represents the port operators.
On Monday, the two sides announced a cooling-off period in the heated negotiationsthat will establish new pay and benefits for the roughly 20,000 workers that move cargo between the ships, terminals and trucks. Historically, these talks often run past the June 30 contract-expiration date but are typically resolved by the middle of July.
“During this break, starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 8, through 8 a.m. on Friday, July 11, the parties have agreed to extend the previous six-year contract, which expired last week,” said a joint statement from the ILWU and PMA.
The longer these negotiations take, the more likely workers will institute slowdowns, which can force cargo movement to a crawl. In 2000, talks went on for months in part over issues pertaining to port automation, which reduces the need for workers. Port operators instituted a 10-day lockout that required then-President George W. Bush to invoke his authority to order the reopening of the ports.
The smooth operation of U.S. ports is vital to the country’s commercial activity. In May, retailers warned businesses to expect operations to slow this summer.Tags: teamstersPort Of LA
California Port Truckers Strike Closes Three Terminals
By Alexandra Bradbury
Port truckers organizing with the Teamsters in Los Angeles and Long Beach are showing their growing leverage. This time their minority strike shut down one of the L.A. port's biggest terminals. Above, a picket line at the Green Fleet Systems yard. Photo: Teamsters.
For the first time, three marine terminals—including one of the L.A. port’s biggest—were shuttered all day Monday, after 120 truckers walked out at Pac 9 Transportation, Green Fleet Services, and Total Transportation Services (TTSI).
Evergreen Container Terminal told the three trucking companies “they are not welcome on the docks until the labor dispute [ends],” driver Alex Paz reported yesterday.
“Our employers are shut down. This means that all drivers at our companies are idle. This is like nothing we’ve ever seen before.”
It’s the California truckers’ fourth strike in a year. Others were one or two days long, but this time it’s open-ended.
These are minority strikes. In November, Pac 9 driver Daniel Linares estimated 15 of his 150 co-workers would participate.
“The rest say we are dreamers. They say we are crazy fighting for our rights.”
But with three terminals forced closed, the dreamers aren’t looking so crazy.
Ships arrive at the ports laden with goods made in Asia. Truckers’ job is to transport the containers to warehouses for big retailers such Skechers Shoes, Forever 21, and Costco. Around 12,000 work at the port.
The strikes are over unfair labor practices, including retaliation. Paz, for instance, used to work at TTSI, but was fired after filing wage theft claims with the state.
“My employer was in the room when I testified. Days later, he fired me.”
Also new: port truckers in Georgia held a protest rally this morning too, though they stopped short of striking. They’re battling to be considered employees rather than independent contractors.
California truckers have fought the same issue, and won a series of determinations. In last November’s strike Pac 9 was still claiming its drivers were independent contractors.
After the union took it to the National Labor Relations Board, the company settled.
“There’s now a sign posted at our company stating that we are employees, not independent contractors, and have the right to form a union.”
But he said Pac 9 continues to punish those involved in the organizing by giving them less work.
Green Fleet for its part, said striker Barry Contreras:
“Has broken nearly every labor law on the books trying to stop us, including giving us unsafe trucks to work with. When they break down, they send us home, leaving us with less work.”
‘A Sweatshop on Trucks’
By organizing, Jane Slaughter reported last year, the truckers hope to win a more livable wage and some control over their working conditions:
Port truckers in the huge L.A.-Long Beach ports are largely immigrants. Most lease their vehicles from the companies that employ them, with payments deducted from their paychecks. Also deducted are charges for parking, diesel fuel, and insurance, including insurance on the cargo.
“Last Friday I only got less than $200,” striker Daniel Linares said, “for working six days a week, from early in the morning to 4 or 5 in the afternoon.”
Sometimes he makes $400-$500, he said, but even so, “this job is a sweatshop on trucks. It’s a miserable wage, not even close to a living wage. The company is making millions of dollars and giving us crumbles.”
Flight Attendant: ‘The Job Itself Is Almost Therapeutic’
MONDAY, JUL 7, 2014, 8:00 AM
Flight Attendant: ‘The Job Itself Is Almost Therapeutic’
BY MATTHEW BLAKE
Moy Medina says that to be flight attendant, 'You don't have to be creative or talented; you just have to be gracious.' (Matthew Blake)
For three years in the early 1970s, journalist Studs Terkel gathered stories from a variety of American workers. He then compiled them into Working, an oral-history collection that went on to become a classic. Four decades after its publication, Working is more relevant than ever. Terkel, who regularly contributed to In These Times, once wrote, “I know the good fight—the fight for democracy, for civil rights, for the rights of workers has a future, for these values will live on in the pages of In These Times.” In honor of that sentiment and of Working's 40th anniversary, ITT writers have invited a broad range of American workers to describe what they do, in their own words. More "Working at 40" stories can be found here.
When Terkel interviewed Terry Mason in 1964, her occupation was referred to as a “stewardess.” She described the five weeks of “stew school” she had to attend, where she and her co-workers learned the techniques for applying makeup, smiling under any circumstance and allowing men to light their cigarettes. She thought of her job as a stepping-stone out of her small Nebraska town, though she admitted that it wasn’t as glamorous as she’d fantasized it might be.
Like Mason, Moy Medina is 26 and uses the phrase “stepping-stone” to describe his career choice. However, he tells In These Times that he’s worried he’ll never leave his current job. This interview has been edited and abridged.
How does one become a flight attendant?
After I applied and got the job, I went to ground school for seven weeks in Atlanta, Georgia. I lived in a Westin Hotel for two months with some guy from Colombia that I had never seen before in my life. They use ground school to weed out people—whether it’s the stress of living with a stranger or being away from home, it’s sort of a trial period for what your life will be like in the air. And a lot of people couldn’t cut it.
Delta puts it together. They come up with the curriculum—all the tests and all that—because it’s specific to the aircraft that they fly. I still work for Delta. If I wanted to work for a different company, I would have to go for a different kind of training all over again. That’s one reason why a lot of people stick with the same job for a long, long time—like more than 35 years.
The airline industry is really hung up on traditions, or just the way things have been for a long time. Attendants call established airlines like Delta “legacy carriers.”
I’m based out of Minneapolis, but I live in Chicago. You’re on call for 24 hours during a three-day period each month. I have to be on call in Minneapolis, where I don’t live, so I have to pay for a hotel. It’s just a really shitty way to live, because you’re on edge about being on-call and you’re not comfortable because you’re in a hotel room. Sometimes, I’ll stay in the airport lounge because I don’t have $70 to spend on a hotel. We have lounges for flight attendants and I’ll go there.
But the work itself is really not stressful. Serving people on the same aircraft, again and again, is sort of like a weird comforting thing. The job itself is almost therapeutic. What’s stressful is the buildup before and after getting to work.
Is it difficult to deal with some passengers?
At first there was a lot of emotional labor, because I didn’t want to be disingenuous to anyone. I wanted to approach every single person with the full intensity and empathy that I wanted to be treated with. But at a certain point, that’s not sustainable. I deal with 250 customers at once, plus my crew, and that’s emotionally hard work. So I’ve built up a set of responses to people.
Like when people complain about being in a business-class seat and not being able to plug in their laptop, for example. It’s not worth getting mad at them for being angry at you.
I don’t feel a connection with passengers anymore. Sometimes I feel a pang of guilt, or a little bit of sorrow or pity for them. But it doesn’t last very long anymore.
In ‘Working’ the flight attendant was called a stewardess, and it seemed like a very female-dominated occupation. Is the field still largely female in your experience?
No, not really. But there’s a strong bias toward “housewife” types of people—women who went to college but didn’t really have ambitions, career-wise, in any other field. I'd say those are the majority of my co-workers.
There’s also, of course, the gay male demographic. We have a proclivity to want to host, and want to be gracious and, like, fabulous. It’s sort of glamorous to be able to fly all over all the time, and a lot of gay males are into that sensation.
You don’t have to be creative or talented to do this job; you just have to be gracious. You don’t have to be an artist or an architect or an interior designer. Those sorts of things take talent and vision that a flight attendant doesn’t.
How long do you think you’ll be a flight attendant for?
That’s the question of the day! And of my life, really. I always thought of being a flight attendant as the stepping-stone to something better. But it’s comfortable. It’s so easy to think, “Oh, this is the best gig ever.” The longer I stay with Delta, the more I’ll get paid and the better my assignments will be.
I’m at that breaking point right now where I don’t want to do it for more than five years, but I think I’m going to have to. At the moment, it’s obviously gratifying to go and travel everywhere and provide people with good service, but it’s not gratifying in the long term. I want to feel like I did something important in the world, and serving people Coke is not the way to do that.
That’s my hang-up. I understand people have to do jobs. There have to be cogs sometime in the system. There have to be flight attendants. There have to be people that clean garbage off of the street. I’m not discounting them. That’s really cool. But I’m trying to decide whether I want to be one of those people or I want to be someone that does something different or something more.Tags: Flight Attendant
SAN FRANCISCO (July 7, 2014) – The International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) today issued the following statement:
The parties have agreed to take a 72-hour break from negotiations on a new coast-wide contract while the ILWU attends to an unrelated negotiation taking place in the Pacific Northwest. During this break, starting at 8 a.m. on Tuesday, July 8, through 8 a.m. on Friday, July 11, the parties have agreed to extend the previous six-year contract, which expired last week. The PMA and ILWU are negotiating a new contract covering nearly 20,000 longshore workers at 29 West Coast ports.
Monday through Friday, my full-time job is cleaning restrooms at Van Nuys High School. But that work is not the hardest part of my life. The hardest part is saying goodbye to my 4-year-old son when he asks me not to go to work again. In order to make ends meet, I also work weekends and nights.
I know I’m lucky to have a full-time job as a facility attendant in the Los Angeles Unified School District. I’ve done that for 10 years, and some days are better than others, but I like the work, and my co-workers are a supportive second family. We don’t interact much with students, but those of us who do custodial work are eyes and ears for teachers and administrators. If I see a student needs help of any kind, I take pride in letting the right people know.
Click here to read more at The Washington Post.Issues: Labor Movement
Daimler Trucks debuted its self-driving “Future Truck 2025” during an on-highway test drive on a section of the autobahn near Magdeburg, Germany.
The truck uses the company’s Highway Pilot system to drive completely autonomously at speeds up to 53 mph. The system could be launched in production vehicles as early as 2025 if conditions permit, according to Daimler.
“Autonomous driving will revolutionize road freight transport and create major benefits for everyone involved. With the Future Truck 2025, Daimler Trucks is once again highlighting its pioneering role in innovative technologies and opening up a new era in truck transport.
“We aim to be the No. 1 manufacturer in this market of the future, which we believe will offer solid revenue and earnings potential,” Wolfgang Bernhard, the member of Daimler’s board of management responsible for Daimler trucks and buses, said in a statement.
United to Outsource Jobs at 12 U.S. Airports
Move Is Part of Carrier's Effort to Lift Its Flagging Fortunes Through Cost-Cutting
By SUSAN CAREY CONNECT
July 7, 2014 4:37 p.m. ET
Airline representatives at U.S. airports increasingly aren't employees of the carriers they represent.
United Continental Holdings Inc. UAL -3.16% said Monday it will outsource jobs at 12 U.S. airports in cities including Buffalo, N.Y., Charlotte, N.C., and Detroit on Oct. 1 to vendors who will perform the duties at lower cost. The jobs currently employ about 635 workers in areas including check-in, baggage-handling, and customer service.
The move, part of a broader effort by United to lift its flagging fortunes through cost-cutting, reflects how big U.S. airlines are using vendors to handle key jobs at most domestic airports, a trend that can reduce expenses but also risks hurting customer service. American Airlines Group Inc., AAL -3.65% Delta Air Lines Inc., DAL -4.40%and Alaska Air Group Inc. ALK -2.22% 's Alaska Airlines are among the carriers that already outsource a large share of this work—although in some cases the carriers use their own contractors.
Passengers often don't realize the check-in agents they deal with at U.S. airports don't work for the airline they are flying. Often, at smaller airports, the same workers may represent multiple competing carriers at different times on different flights.
United declined to comment on the expected savings. airline pays such workers from $12 to $24 an hour, while some vendors start workers at $9 an hour—$1.75 more than the federal minimum wage—and don't offer health coverage or travel benefits.
According to Rich Delaney, president of the International Association of Machinists union district that represents the United airport agents and baggage handlers, outsourcing the work at the dozen airports will save United $1.6 million to $3.5 million per airport a year, depending on the size and the worker population.
"It does make economic sense," said Michael Boyd, a consultant at Boyd Group International. "It's not a $40,000 job to load bags. Cleaning planes is not a $20-an-hour job." But the outsourced work offers "no career path, no loyalty. By its nature, it's temporary, until the next bid comes up," he said. "When you replace employees with Air Fred, you'll see the bottom line improve, but you'll get more lost bags."
Indeed, the transition can be bumpy. When Alaska Airlines decided to use Menzies Aviation, a unit of John Menzies MNZS.LN -1.43% PLC of Scotland, to handle ramp jobs at its Seattle hub in 2005, the shift was marked by misplaced luggage, late flights and an incident in which a damaged aircraft had to make an emergency landing. But the problems eventually were corrected.
In some cases, airlines are outsourcing airport work to their competitors. United last year turned to vendors at six U.S. airports and three in Canada, affecting nearly 500 jobs. The U.S. airport work was given to Envoy Air Inc., a wholly owned unit of American Airlines. Envoy, formerly called American Eagle, is a regional airline subsidiary of American that also has a thriving, nonunion business in servicing airports, working for American and about 20 other airline customers at 125 airports.
United, the nation's No. 2 airline by traffic, has no such unit of its own. It said the six airports that switched to Envoy staffing last October are performing "on par" with other airports in United's system, and that one received a prize for punctuality and service. Despite the "learning curve" of the new workers, only one aircraft was damaged in the aftermath of the change, the company said.
Delta also has a nonunion subsidiary called Delta Global Services that provides airport handling work at about 100 airports, doing work for Delta and about 10 other carriers. There are plenty of other vendors in the field, including Air Serv, a unit of ABM Industries Inc., as well as regional airlines such as US Airways's Piedmont unit and SkyWest Inc.
Delta Global Services employees receive medical benefits, a 401(k) plan and travel privileges. Pay starts at about $8 an hour but tops out at $18. Envoy workers receive medical coverage and travel privileges. Starting pay is $9.20 an hour, higher in more expensive cities, and can top out at nearly double that amount.
American said the vast majority of its domestic airports already are staffed by Envoy or other contractors. Delta said only 42 of its 230 domestic airports employ Delta employees exclusively. Thirty-three airports have Delta workers as customer-service agents and Delta Global Services workers employed as ramp workers. In 80 airports, Delta Global Services workers perform both functions. Another 75 airports use other outside vendors.
United said it employs its own workers at 47 of 227 domestic airports and 27 airports use a mix of United and vendor employees. Fully 153 airports use outside handlers.
United has said that as many as 30 more airports may be targeted for outsourcing, based on their higher expenses when benchmarked against competitor airport costs. The company said it hasn't finished selecting the vendors for the latest dozen airports. The workers who are being displaced will be able to apply for openings elsewhere, or if they have enough seniority, bump someone else out of a job. Or they will receive severance packages, United said.
The company said it also is "in-sourcing" jobs for its own employees in Denver, Phoenix, Honolulu and Washington's Dulles International Airport, creating 400 new positions.
United, as part of its 2013 labor agreement with the Machinists union, agreed to protect jobs at 30 of its busiest airports, including its hubs. Those airports are where 92% of the Machinists-represented agents and ramp workers are employed. In the new contract, United also agreed that if smaller airports are targeted for outsourcing, the union and company would negotiate to see if changes in wages and benefits could be negotiated to let the work be retained.
On Monday, United said workers at three smaller Hawaiian airports tentatively agreed to make wage and work-rule concessions to keep their jobs, and will vote on the changes this week. Two-thirds of the total 236 employees must approve the new terms as well as two-thirds at each of the three airports.
Mr. Delaney of the Machinists union said because United doesn't have its own vendor operation, the labor group was hoping to do something similar at individual airports by letting workers agree to concessions without affecting the compensation for the entire group. But he estimated with medical benefits, a pension plan, 401(k) and travel benefits, his members might cost $35,000 a year more than an outsourced worker.
"The hurdle we have to get over at every station is sizable," he said.
Write to Susan Carey at email@example.com
Port of Long Beach, Los Angeles truck drivers begin strike, allege unfair labor practices
By Karen Robes Meeks, The Whittier Daily News
POSTED: 07/07/14, 8:04 AM PDT | UPDATED: 32 SECS AGO0 COMMENTS
United Farm Workers join Teamsters as they delay a truck from entering Green Fleet Systems in Carson, CA, on Monday, July 7, 2014. Truckers picketed several trucking companies and shipping terminals at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles claiming they are treated unfairly and are demanding better pay and working conditions. (Scott Varley / Staff Photographer)
More than 100 drivers who haul goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and their supporters protested three Harbor Area trucking companies Monday, calling for the firms to improve working and wage conditions for truckers and to stop retaliating against drivers who want to unionize.
In what they say is the start of “indefinite strikes” at truck yards and marine terminals, protesters swarmed Green Fleet Systems, Total Transportation Services Inc. and Pacific 9 Transportation Inc. to rally against what they say is the misclassification of drivers as independent contractors instead of employees, a practice they said allows the companies to skirt labor laws and avoid paying them fair wages.
“We’re staying out here till the industry changes, until they stop breaking the law,” said former five-year TTSI driver Alex Paz, who added that drivers face harassment, retaliation and even death threats from the companies.
Alex Cherin, a spokesman for the companies, denied the allegations. The companies are “discouraged to learn that outside interest groups have again decided to block the rights of these drivers to go to work and earn a living,” according to a statement released by Cherin.
“Time and time again every segment of the industry has rejected the efforts of these groups and their agenda. It is unfortunate that once again we must wait out what has become a distraction.”
Protesters gathered at the Wilmington Waterfront Park on Monday, calling the demonstration a success. The strike left some 400 truckers unable to drive to the ports because they were reportedly told not to come to the terminals for fear that the International Longshore and Warehouse Union would have to honor the picket line. If longshore workers walked off the job, it would cause a significant disruption in the goods movement chain.
“If these trucks aren’t working, there’s nothing to picket,” said Barb Maynard, a spokeswoman for a campaign to organize truckers. “The minute they send a truck down, we’re going to put a picket line right there on that marine terminal.”
Cherin said the decision to not dispatch workers had more to do with the closure of several terminals to commemorate Bloody Thursday, which honors ILWU workers who were killed during demonstrations to establish the waterfront union in the 1930s.
Officials at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports reported minimal disruption Monday.
The three trucking companies have approximately 400 trucks registered at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach — less than 10 percent of those that operate on a regular day, port officials said.
Complicating matters is longshore workers working without a contract since their six-year agreement with the association representing shipping lines and West Coast port terminal operators expired July 1. There were no formal contract talks Monday and none expected for the next few days.
Both sides have said they do not want a disruption in the flow of goods.
During past trucker strikes, dockworkers stopped working in solidarity but quickly returned when an arbitrator ruled the job action was not permissible under their contract. With no contract in place, the arbitration process is not in effect. If dockworkers walk, their employers can’t force them back to work.
International Longshore and Warehouse Union spokesman Craig Merrilees would not speculate on what dockworkers might do if picketers set up outside marine terminals. A spokesman for the maritime association had no comment.
In a statement, the California Trucking Association said it strongly disagrees with the timing of the protests.
“While the California Trucking Association respects individuals’ rights to peacefully exercise free speech, the timing of this labor disruption is highly irresponsible,” said association CEO Shawn Yadon. “At a time when the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Association have demonstrated great restraint during their contract negotiations, the Teamsters have instead chosen to create disruption.
“If these disruptions spill over into marine terminals, the national economy could lose hundreds of millions of dollars.”
Rep. Janice Hahn, D-San Pedro, who stood alongside drivers Monday, spoke about the economic generators driven by the twin ports and how the drivers who haul goods to retailers should be paid fairly.
“The transportation-related jobs that handle this valuable cargo should be good paying local jobs that fuel economic growth and prosperity throughout Southern California,” Hahn said. “But unfortunately there is one group of skilled, hard-working men and women among us that have been stuck at the bottom of the economic ladder because of long-standing unfair employment treatment. And this unfair treatment must end.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Contact Karen Robes Meeks at 562-714-2088.Tags: Teamster truckersPort Of Los Angeles
SF TWU 250 A Muni union vote on contract delayed a week
By Jessica Kwong @JessicaGKwong
• CINDY CHEW/2006 S.F. EXAMINER FILE PHOTO
• Approval of a tentative agreement between Muni and Transport Workers Union Local 250-A was rescheduled for July 14.
Approval of a tentative agreement between the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency and Transport Workers Union Local 250-A was delayed today and rescheduled for July 14.
"We needed to clarify an aspect of the tentative agreement and we've reached a resolution on that regard and are optimistic about the vote on [July 14]," said SFMTA spokesman Paul Rose.
The union plans to release details of the "aspect" that needed clarification to its membership Tuesday night, Rose said.
"We've made a commitment not to discuss details until they had a chance to do that," he said.
Eric Williams, president of Local 250-A, did not immediately return calls for comment today.
The union on its website posted a notification dated last Wednesday informing transit operators and fare inspectors, for whom the contract applies, and the rest of its membership that the contract ratification vote for today had been canceled.
Under the new tentative agreement, Muni operators and fare inspectors would receive a 14.25 percent wage increase over three years. That breaks down to an up to 9.5 percent wage increase depending on an employee's seniority, that is intended to offset a 7.5 percent contribution in worker pensions, as well as a 4.75 percent cost of living increase.
Those terms came June 27, a few days before the expiration date of the old contract.
Following the union's anticipated approval of the tentative agreement today, the SFMTA board of directors planned to vote on the contract July 15. Rose said he did not have details on whether that date will hold or what the new timeline might be.
There is no deadline to approve the tentative agreement, he said, and the new terms for workers will be retroactive to July 1.Tags: SF TWU 250 A
Port truck drivers picket LA harbor-area trucking companies
BRIAN VAN DER BRUG / LOS ANGELES TIMES
Only 10% of Southern California's roughly 12,000 short-haul truckers are directly employed by companies, industry experts estimate.
Southern California port truck drivers loading up on wage-theft cases
BY ANDREW KHOURI
July 7, 2014, 7:43 a.m.
More than 120 truck drivers at the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports walked off the job Monday morning, organizers said, launching an indefinite protest against what they say are widespread workplace violations.
The picket lines are the largest demonstration yet against several regional truck companies that haul freight from the nation's largest port complex. Drivers argue they are improperly classified as independent contractors, leaving them with fewer workplace protections and lower pay than if they were company employees, protest organizers said.
Unlike previous protests, organizers haven't set an end date. Monday's picket lines, backed by Teamsters Local 848, target three harbor-area companies: Total Transportation Services Inc., Green Fleet Systems and Pacific 9 Transportation.
It is the fourth such protest in the last year. Drivers plan to picket at the firms' trucking yards and then follow the rigs to port terminals. The protests had not disrupted operations at the Port of Long Beach as of 8:30 a.m., a port spokesman said. At the Port of Los Angeles, operations were also unaffected as of 9 a.m., a spokesman said.
The action comes as nearly 20,000 West Coast dockworkers are working without a contract.
The International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the Pacific Maritime Assn., which represents employers, are negotiating a new agreement after a six-year deal at 29 West Coast ports expired July 1.
It wasn't immediately clear if dockworkers would honor Monday's picket lines.
In a joint news release, issued July 1, the longshoremen's union and the maritime association pledged to keep cargo moving until an agreement was reached.
Of Southern California's roughly 12,000 short-haul truckers, only 10% are directly employed by companies, industry experts estimate. In 2008, California started to crack down on trucking companies that misclassified employees as independent contractors.
Currently, the state labor commissioner's office is examining more than 300 claims of wage theft related to misclassification. In 2011, drivers filed just two such complaints.Tags: Los Angeles teamster truckers
120 California Truck Drivers in LA Go On Indefinite Strike
California’s ports have seen significant labor unrest since last year.
More than 120 truck drivers who haul consumer goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to retail warehouses launched an indefinite strike on Monday, according to MSNBC, escalating a tumultuous multi-year union organizing effort among the drivers. The consumer brands whose supplies could be affected by the strikes include Skechers shoes, Ralph Lauren, Walmart, and Home Depot, according to a press release from strike organizers.
The core complaint underlying the union drive is thatcompanies like Total Transportation Services, Inc. (TTSI), Green Fleet Systems, and Pacific 9 Transportation deem their drivers “independent contractors” in order to avoid paying overtime and prevent their workers from enjoying various other labor law protections. The drivers say they are misclassified and should be treated as full employees, and have begun to flood the California Labor Commission with wage theft complaints in order to fight the misclassification and seek the pay that the “independent contractor” label has cost them over the years.
The short-haul trucking industry, known as the drayage business, is a key link in the nation’s supply chain between ports and the logistics warehouses that are crucial to low-cost retail companies from Amazon.com to Walmart. Misclassification helps make drayage cheaper and more profitable, which in turn helps support the cheap prices and high profits of the broader retail sector. Wage theft complaints and driver organizing threaten that arrangement.
Drayage companies have retaliated against the by firing workers who seek to organize, among other violations of the drivers’ labor rights. Green Fleet was charged with 50 separate labor law violations last month by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), including allegations that an agent of the company leveled death threats at drivers involved in the union push. A separate NLRB finding in March held that Pacific 9 drivers were being misclassified and suffering illegal retaliation for their organizing efforts. The largest company in the California drayage industry, Pacer Cartage, Inc., was ordered to pay misclassified drivers more than $2.2 million in back pay in April.
Monday’s strikes look to build on the momentum from those legal judgments in drivers’ favor. Previous strikes have lasted just a day or two, but the new round of picketing is intended to continue indefinitely. The drivers and their Teamsters allies have chosen a particularly tense time for the strikes, the Los Angeles Times notes, because the state’s roughly 20,000 dockworkers are currently working without a contract as union and port leaders work to negotiate a new deal. Labor leaders have “pledged to keep cargo moving until an agreement was reached,” according to the Times, but “it wasn’t immediately clear if dockworkers would honor Monday’s [drayage driver] picket lines.”
By one estimate, two-thirds of all short-haul drayage drivers nationwide are misclassified, but these companies are far from alone in using “independent contractor” rules to cut their labor costs. Misclassification of employees is among the most widespread labor law violations in the country. A company can save roughly $4,000 per misclassified worker per year, according to a 2012 Treasury Department study, by ducking unemployment taxes, Social Security taxes, and Medicare taxes. Those savings starve state and federal treasuries of resources and deny working people benefits they are supposed to have earned.
One Department of Labor study from more than a decade ago estimated that between 10 and 30 percent of all employers misclassify their workers. The total number of misclassified workers is somewhere in the millions, but no national data exist, according to a fact sheet from the labor coalition Change To Win. Misclassification cases have made the news in recent years in sectors ranging from private shipping and mail carriers to strip clubs.
The post California Truck Drivers Go On Indefinite Strike appeared first on ThinkProgress.teamstersPort Of LA
Truck drivers for three companies that move cargo in and out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach launched a strike early Monday morning, with the support of organizers of the Teamsters union the drivers are hoping to join.
The strike involves 120 drivers for three transport firms including Total Transportation Services Inc., Green Fleet Systems and Pacific 9. The drivers have staged strikes and labor actions in the past year, but this is the first time they've walked off the job with no plans to return.
Click here to read more at The Breakdown.Issues: Labor Movement
If you were outraged by the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby decision, take a deep breath and get ready for the next battle over women’s rights.
A case that will affect millions of working women is on the Supreme Court docket for the term beginning Oct. 6. Young v. United Parcel Service will test the law prohibiting employment discrimination against pregnant women. And it’s anybody’s guess how this court will rule.
Click here to read more at The News & Advance.Issues: Labor Movement
UPS Inc. plans to invest $1 billion in its European operations in the next three to five years, chief financial officer Kurt Kuehn told a German newspaper, Reuters reported.
A majority of the investment would go to expanding the company’s logistics centers in Germany, one of the company’s fastest growing markets.
Kuehn said the company’s new strategy will be announced in November and involves acquisitions, especially in the health-care sector, according to Reuters.
In January 2013 ,UPS abandoned its $6.8 billion bid to buy European package carrier TNT Express NV after European regulators moved to block the deal. The company said it would focus on other acquisitions consistent with its long-term growth strategy.
UPS is ranked No. 1 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.Issues: UPS