The Teamsters Port Division has been hard at work standing up for workers in the port industry during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Division is actively engaged on the ground in support of port workers, who most recently held an action late last week. The truck drivers who work at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and who are misclassified by their employers as independent contractors, circled their trucks around the Port of Los Angeles administrative building and delivered a petition demanding greater protections during the COVID-19 crisis.
The workers had the full support of the Teamsters Port Division and the Our People Our Port coalition. The drivers’ demands include proper PPE, paid sick leave, social distancing procedures, suspension of payment requirements related to truck loans and leases and more.
The Port Division recently collaborated with Labor Community Services and the Los Angeles Regional Food Bank to host a food distribution to over 1,000 port truck drivers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Union and community members volunteered to distribute food, as well as much needed personal protective equipment, including Teamster custom face masks.
This partnership with the LA Regional Food Bank has helped feed over 27,000 families all across Los Angeles County.
Business is down about 30 percent at the ports, so many drivers are struggling to make ends meet, and because they are illegally misclassified by their employers as independent contractors, they are not being paid for waiting time for loads at the terminals. Drivers are still paying for truck leases and diesel, despite the loss of income. Drivers are not being provided with PPE from the trucking companies or access to health insurance or paid sick leave.
The Port Division is engaging with drivers to help them with securing unemployment insurance, guiding them through the application process.
The Division helped ensure that port workers are considered essential workers, so that they can get benefits to protect them, regardless of their misclassified status. Port truck drivers carry cargo like food and medical supplies; they are essential.
The Teamsters Union is well-represented on the Los Angeles Mayor’s Task Force to discuss labor needs during this pandemic.
The Division will continue to keep all workers informed as we work together to get through this pandemic safely.