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Port Truck Drivers from Los Angeles and Long Beach Call on Mayors to Protect Workers

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Press Contact: Elana Bodow Phone: (315) 440-7554

Truck drivers who move goods for major retailers from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are calling on Mayors Garcetti and Garcia to take immediate action to protect public health at the ports in their cities. A recent survey of drivers shows seven in ten truck drivers report both lower pay and more dangerous working conditions as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. With no personal protective equipment or virus safety information provided by port trucking companies, drivers are forced to put their lives on the line as they work to transport goods for global brands and major retailers such as Target, Wal-Mart and Amazon.

To better understand the challenges drivers are facing, Change to Win, a coalition of national labor unions that includes the Teamsters, conducted a bilingual online survey of 651 port drivers between March 25 and April 5, 2020. 

Key findings include:

This is the first week that essential businesses such as port trucking are required to comply with orders issued by Mayor Garcetti in LA and Mayor Garcia and the Health Officer in Long Beach. These orders mandate employers provide workers with a number of protections,
including providing face coverings, hand sanitizer, and disinfecting surfaces. Yet drivers continue to report that their trucking companies are failing to provide these critical protections.

The dangerous combination of no paid sick leave or health insurance through their employers in many cases leaves drivers with few healthcare options and no safety net, which endangers the health of drivers and their families and undermines efforts to contain the
pandemic.

The threat of COVID-19, paired with the severe drop in incoming cargo to the ports, has left drivers fighting to make ends meet, as they are paid for completed trips and not hours worked. 

“The work is just slowing down, and it’s not getting any better. I made $48 and then in the same week I had to go to the emergency room and walked out with a $2,000 bill. This is hard for my family financially, and I don’t know what we’re going to do if this gets worse,” said Alex Mejia, a port truck driver. “We’re also nervous about getting sick, since our trucking companies are not providing us with PPE. It’s a scary situation.”

The vast majority of port drivers were already illegally misclassified as independent contractors prior to the pandemic, leaving them vulnerable to trucking companies that force drivers into debt and routinely deduct truck payments from their paychecks. Additionally, port truck drivers do not feel safe at work as trucking companies and the ports fail to take necessary precautions, and they fear for their health as they are forced to choose between insurmountable medical bills or going to the doctor for a check-up. 

“This global pandemic has exposed how major shippers and the port trucking industry have dismantled the social safety net for port drivers by unlawfully excluding them from critical protections for decades. The moral betrayal and abandonment of these essential workers during a public health crisis is abhorrent,” said Ron Herrera, Director of the Teamsters Port Division. “We are calling on Mayors Garcetti and Garcia to immediately take every action possible to protect these drivers.”