Green Fleet Systems Drivers Joined by Supporters
Port truck drivers at the Port of Los Angeles-Long Beach lead a march back to work to return to their jobs following a 24-hour Unfair Labor Practice strike in August against their employer, Green Fleet Systems (GFS). The drivers, who struck to protest harassment and intimidation by company management, had hundreds of people turn out at a rally to support their plight.
Representatives from labor, faith and community organizations rallied for the port drivers who are continuing their fight against GFS, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on union busters.
“For too long, port drivers have been treated unfairly and it is time to take a stand,” said Randy Cammack, International Vice President and President of California’s Joint Council 42. “These giant corporations must stop exploiting these workers and cease their intimidation tactics. Everyone deserves respect on the job and an opportunity to provide for their families.”
Drivers filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which then investigated Green Fleet and issued an Unfair Labor Practice (ULP) complaint alleging the company broke federal labor law with retaliatory anti-union actions. Drivers were striking to protest these ULPs.
“In the past, GFS management had been very racist toward many of us,” said Francisco Valencia, a 12-year port driver who has been with GFS for four years. “They screamed at us and humiliated us in front of everyone. The working conditions and the way that we are treated is not just. We deserve to be treated as human beings.”
Valencia, 58, immigrated to the United States from El Salvador in search of better opportunities for himself and his family. He works every day to support his family, including paying his son’s college tuition.
While on strike, port drivers set up picket lines at the Green Fleet warehouse in Carson, Calif. Teams of strikers in cars followed Green Fleet trucks, picketing them when they delivered at customer warehouses and distribution centers, including Skechers’ state-of-the-art national distribution center in Moreno Valley, Calif.
The port drivers were, for the first time, joining the ranks of workers fed up with being abused by powerful corporations.
Along with their union, they are saying, “Corporate greed is turning America into a third-world country of exploited workers who don’t earn enough money to afford food, clothing and rent.”
Though the Green Fleet drivers are employees, the vast majority of port truck drivers across the United States are misclassified as independent contractors and don’t have the same rights as employees to form a union.
Companies also misclassify employees to avoid paying taxes, to shift business expenses to drivers and to avoid paying drivers for all hours worked.
Misclassified drivers in California have brought the fight to the boss by filing wage and hour claims estimated to amount to millions of dollars in stolen wages.
“The truth is that although our ports are profitable and more and more goods are coming into the United States, most drivers at the ports are not benefiting from this,” said Fred Potter, International Vice President and Director of the Port Division. “And as long as port companies keep misclassifying their drivers as independent contractors, the Teamsters will be there to represent them.”