(WASHINGTON) – Teamster leaders and port truck drivers fighting for their employee rights with the help of the Teamsters announced their support today for measures that would take steps to address the broken employment system that exists in port trucking and empower local ports to reduce pollution, mitigate traffic congestion, heighten highway safety and improve efficiency.
At a press conference on Capitol Hill this morning, Teamster leaders and port drivers said two separate bills introduced by Reps. Grace Napolitano (D-Calif.) and Jerrold Nadler (D-N.Y.) would address the shadowy world of truck leasing exposed in a USA Today report earlier this year while also empowering local ports to clean up their acts – all without putting the burden on the backs of the truck drivers.
“For years, port truck drivers across the country have been forced to work long hours, often exceeding maximum hours of service set by the U.S. to keep America safe, in order to pay the company to lease and maintain their truck,” said Fred Potter, Vice President-at-Large at the Teamsters and Director of the Teamsters’ Port Division. “Rep. Napolitano’s bill would create a taskforce to review the broken system and crack down on bad actors.”
Meanwhile, Rep. Nadler’s legislation would modernize federal trucking rules to empower local ports to require ports address truck pollution and congestion at such facilities. Such requirements, said Teamsters Local 848 Secretary-Treasurer Eric Tate, are long overdue. “In the current inefficient port industry, drivers are often forced to idle for hours at marine terminals in trucks spewing filth into the air,” he said. “The ports need the ability to clean up harbor communities with the ability to own the retailers, not the drivers, accountable for necessary changes that would clean the air.”
Daniel “Seko” Uaina, a driver at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, said he is glad lawmakers are trying to address the challenges drivers like him are facing. “We are trying to keep food on the table and a roof over our heads,” he said. “I’m glad Congress is getting involved to improve workers’ lives.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.