(LOS ANGELES) – As cases of COVID-19 surge to historic heights in LA County, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters recognized the essential work of port truck drivers from the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach this week with two days of events to help drivers struggling during the holiday season. Port truck drivers in Los Angeles and Long Beach have worked throughout the pandemic without proper protective equipment and workplace safety measures, and they have long been denied proper benefits due to their misclassification as independent contractors.
On Thursday, the Teamsters provided more than 100 port truck drivers with COVID-19 tests or flu shots. Local leaders, including Teamsters Local 848 Secretary-Treasurer Eric Tate, LA City Councilmember Joe Buscaino, Port of Los Angeles Executive Director Eugene Seroka and St. John’s Well Child & Family Center President & CEO Jim Mangia, held a press conference on the dire situation facing port truck drivers amid this year’s holiday shipping rush and COVID-19 surge.
“The coronavirus pandemic has ravaged our communities, spreading disease and death with a particularly devastating impact on working-class people of color such as port truck drivers. Port truck drivers serve as part of the backbone of our nation’s economy,” Tate said. “With COVID-19 infection rates increasing and with the oncoming flu season, it is of the utmost importance that port drivers and their families are taken care of.”
“This is how we extend our gratitude to port truck drivers, who are too often undervalued and unseen. We honor and stand with them in this time of need as they are essential members of the Teamsters and our communities,” said Ron Herrera, Teamsters Port Division Director.
On Friday, the Teamsters held a food and toy distribution event for drivers in need during the holidays. Dozens of truck drivers rolled through the event, collecting boxes of toys and food in a socially-distanced manner. The Teamsters have held similar food distribution events throughout the year in order to support the drivers who have delivered essential goods across Los Angeles County during the pandemic.