Teamsters Port Division Director Ron Herrera joined U.S. Transportation Secretary Pete Buttigieg today in lauding workers at the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for their work in helping to ease congestion at the nation’s largest port of entry.
Herrera, who is also a union international vice president and Secretary-Treasurer of Local 396, thanked port truck drivers for their essential work in making sure goods moved more smoothly through the ports during a time of crisis. He also stressed the need to make such jobs good-paying union jobs.
“Port truck drivers are the backbone of our economy and have kept cargo moving despite all odds,” Herrera said. “Now more than ever before we must stand with these workers, who are largely Latino immigrants, to ensure dignity, justice and fair compensation on the job.”
Buttigieg also praised essential workers for their continued efforts on the job throughout the pandemic, including the latest Omicron variant outbreak. He said it families were able to receive the gifts they wanted because of their hard work.
“Supply chains are human. Supply chains are people who use equipment in order to get goods to where they need to be,” he said. “One of the reasons that Christmas was in fact not cancelled was because ports like Los Angeles and Long Beach moved record levels of goods, allowing an all-time record high in terms of sales this holiday season.”
But there are still issues that need to be fixed, like the shortage of port truck drivers. These workers are not paid a living wage and are largely treated as indentured servants. These problems will continue to plague the system until this country deals with the issue of misclassification which allows these drivers to be subjugated by companies.
The Teamsters have stated repeatedly that if port truck drivers can make an adequate wage with good working conditions, they will come to work. But that means they must be treated as employees who are allowed to organize with a union so they can negotiate proper compensation, benefits and workplace safety.
These workers are being taken for granted by big business even after they did to keep America running during the most difficult days of COVID-19. They were seen as heroes and repeatedly praised by lawmakers for jeopardizing their own health and that of their families. Drivers were on the frontlines when the country needed them most, but their sacrifice has been quickly forgotten.
Greedy companies are hampering the supply chain, not the hardworking Americans working for them. Policies need to be put in place that help workers.