A week-long strike by Port of Los Angeles/Long Beach truck drivers and warehouse workers culminated in a large and raucous rally on the steps of the Los Angeles city hall on Friday, June 23. Striking workers and their allies then proceeded inside to delivery nearly 10,000 petition signatures calling on Mayor Eric Garcetti, as well as Long Beach mayor Robert Garcia, to end indentured servitude at the ports they oversee.
Since Monday, workers had been picketing outside of trucking company yards and terminals utilized by XPO, Cal Cartage, CMI, Intermodal Bridge Transport, and others, over the employers’ unfair labor practices. Many port drayage companies continue to classify port truck drivers as “independent contractors”, thus denying them good wages and benefits.
The drivers and warehouse workers ended their strike when they made unconditional offers to return to work at their place of employment (though the drivers themselves are not considered employees by the trucking companies that employ them).
“Corporations have pushed tens of millions of American truck drivers, warehouse workers and service sector workers into poverty through greedy subcontracting schemes designed to increase CEO pay. One of the most insidious corporate schemes is to misclassify employees as “independent contractors” to dodge payroll taxes, lower wages, avoid paying benefits and to evade the laws that protect employees,” said Fred Potter, International Vice President and Director of the Teamsters Port Division.
Throughout the week, and at the press conference, workers described how being paid low-wages with no benefits affects their families.
“My boss says I don’t work for the company, that I’m not their employee. That’s ridiculous. I only work for them, I don’t have my own customers, and dispatch tells me where to go and when. The government has ruled over and over again that we are all employees and the companies are stealing from us. How much longer is this going to be allowed to continue at the ports?” said Domingo Avalos, an XPO Cartage driver.
“I went on strike for my family to put a stop to the mistreatment,” said Victor Gonzales, a warehouse worker with Cal Cartage. “The Port of Los Angeles must be a better landlord and take responsibility for what is going on here.”
Patrick Kelly, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 952 in Orange, Calif., said, “We have share-cropping on wheels occurring at the ports. The ports are public property, therefore we must demand justice from our elected officials!”