Misclassified “independent contractor” port drivers employed by Gold Point Transportation, which is owned by 3Plus Logistics Co., which also owns Harbor Express, Inc., which has been the subject of wage theft claims by its drivers, went on strike yesterday to protest unfair labor practices including misclassification and wage theft. They are picketing at the company yard as well as at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
“When I was hired by Gold Point, I was under the impression that they hired me as an employee and not as an independent contractor. I was directed to an offsite office to sign paperwork in English and did not understand that I signed a truck lease. It wasn’t until I filed my income taxes that the accountant told me I was leasing the truck. It is not my obligation to pay the company to use their truck and pay their business expenses. I feel that I’m being taken advantage of.”
– Jose Torres, a 60-year old immigrant from El Salvador, has been a truck driver at Gold Point for two years. Jose, his wife, and two young children aged 3 and 10 years old, rent a one-bedroom apartment in Los Angeles.
PORT DRIVER STRIKE
On Monday, Oct. 26, port truck drivers misclassified as “independent contractors” began their eighth “Unfair Labor Practice” strike at America’s largest port complex, the twin ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach. The striking drivers included those misclassified as “independent contractors” by Pacific 9 Transportation (Pac 9), who have been on an indefinite strike since July this year for 15 straight weeks, and those employed by global giant XPO Logistics (NYSE: XPO), which has spent $7.34 Billion in the last year expanding their reach in the global supply chain. On Tuesday, Oct. 27, misclassified drivers from Intermodal Bridge Transport (IBT) began their second Unfair Labor Practice strike after delivering a petition for improved working conditions, recognition as employees, and to be represented by the Teamsters. These drivers are on strike to protest unfair labor practices, including misclassification and retaliation, harassment, and intimidation for having filed claims for wage theft with the California Labor Commissioner’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
MISCLASSIFICATION: As America’s lowest wage workers are beginning to see justice with a $15 hourly wage on the horizon, the cries of the millions of American workers who are misclassified as “independent contractors” are reaching a fevered pitch. Spanning employees in the janitorial, e-commerce, entertainment, home care, construction, port truck driving industries these workers are not only robbed of basic workplace protections like the right to minimum wage, overtime pay, and a safe and healthful workplace, but they are also being cheated out of such rudimentary workplace benefits as unemployment compensation when they are laid off; workers’ compensation when they are injured on the job; and the right to form a union have a voice on the job – a voice that allows workers to gain respect, dignity, and the ability to bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions.
Misclassification robs workers of these rights. As “independent contactors,” workers do not have the ability to engage in group activity to protest and resolve workplace issues. Further, misclassification deprives workers of protections afforded “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Port drivers are on the front line challenging this unfair labor practice by filing charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that misclassification itself violates the NLRA (as does retaliation for filing wage and hour claims”).
WAGE THEFT: Employees illegally misclassified as independent contractors are also victims of pervasive wage theft that robs workers of billions of dollars a year. Misclassifying drivers enables trucking companies to shift their business expenses on to the backs of low wage workers who are controlled by the trucking company that employs them. Predatory truck lease schemes bind drivers to their employer. Companies deduct the cost of diesel fuel, insurance, maintenance, parking, even the cost of printing paychecks, leaving drivers with very little or even negative paychecks. Studies have shown that the average port truck driver is subject to $4,000 per month, or $48,000 per year, in wage theft. Without the ability to fight back at their workplace.
TAX FRAUD: Misclassification doesn’t just hurt the workers and their families – it hurts us all through pervasive and wide scale tax fraud that robs our schools, our roads, our public safety services of billions in vital resources.
THE FRONT LINE: On the front line of the fight to end the misclassification/wage theft scheme are the professional truck drivers at our nation’s largest port complex – the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, who haul everyone’s cargo, including Amazon, Costco, and Proctor & Gable. Nearly one-half a trillion dollars in goods per year flow through these ports – more than 40 percent of U.S. imports and exports – yet the men and women who haul these containers on and off the docks to nearby rail yards, distribution centers, and warehouses are denied employee rights. By striking and filing unfair labor practice charges port drivers are fighting back!
Social Media Links
– For more information on the port truck drivers’ campaign: www.JusticeForPortDrivers.org.
– For more information on the warehouse workers’ campaign: www.warehouseworkers.org
– Follow us on Twitter @PortDriverUnion and @wwunited
– Like us at www.facebook.com/Justice4PortDrivers