(CARSON, Calif.) – In a landmark victory for misclassified “independent contractors” across America, two previously fired port truck drivers have returned to work today as employees of Green Fleet Systems (GFS) in Long Beach, Calif. Earlier misclassified as independent contractors by GFS, the drivers’ return was the result of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals denying an emergency motion by the company to stay a 10(j) injunction issued by a federal judge against them.
The drivers, Mateo Mares and Amilcar Cardona, were fired in January for challenging their misclassification, for filing claims for stolen wages with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), and for publicly supporting the Teamsters union.
“America’s port drivers are the poster child for wage theft in America,” said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. “Like millions of workers, drivers are treated like regular employees but illegally compensated as independent contractors. The Teamsters are committed to working with drivers and their allies to stop wage theft in the port trucking industry. Justice for port drivers means justice for all American workers.”
This is the first 10 (j) injunction supporting the rights of misclassified “independent contractors” in the history of the United States. GFS has been ordered to cease all illegal labor activities or face contempt of court. Watch Mateo and Amilcar’s story here.
“We are on the front lines of the fight,” Mares said. “This ruling is a great victory not just for me, Amilcar, and our families, but for all drivers at Green Fleet Systems who have been too fearful to openly support our effort to become Teamsters, and for misclassified workers across America. Although the fight was long, justice has finally been served. The law is on our side and we all have rights as employees to form our union.”
The historic decision also brought a swift response from Julie Gutman Dickinson, the attorney representing the drivers. “The Decision sends the message loud and clear to the trucking industry and to all employers who try to pass off regular employees as independent contractors, that they are in fact employees that are entitled to choose union representation and cannot be fired for their union activities or for filing claims for wage theft.”
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. For more information, see the Port division page on www.teamster.org and follow us on Facebook and Twitter @Teamsters.
For more information on the port truck drivers’ campaign, visit www.JusticeForPortDrivers.org. Follow us on Twitter @PORTDRIVERUNION. Like us at Facebook.com\Justice4PortDriversLA.