(Long Beach, Calif.) - Today, Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa joined port truck drivers, warehouse workers, community and faith allies, and Teamster officials at a press conference at ITS marine terminal at the Port of Long Beach.
The workers and Teamster officials announced that misclassified “independent contractor” drivers at Chinese-owned port trucking company Intermodal Bridge Transport (IBT) filed a petition to be recognized first as employees, and to be represented by the Teamsters. IBT driver Jose Portillo reported that the company official who received the petition threw it on the ground and the workers walked off the job on strike. This is their second strike.
The Teamsters also entered into a new partnership with the Warehouse Workers Resource Center, including support for Cal Cartage warehouse workers who announced the intent to go on strike starting Wednesday morning Oct. 28.
Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa released the following statement: The misclassification of workers, and the devastating wage theft, ends here. Yesterday I visited with supply chain workers who haul imports and exports to and from the docks at our nation’s largest port, and with the warehouse workers who unpack and reload items onto trucks destined for major retailers like Amazon and Walmart. Every one of these egregiously exploited workers shared stories of their inhumane working conditions and their determination to fight back, not just for themselves but for all of their supply chain co-workers. I told them “You have the support of the 1.4 million Teamster members. We will bring justice to port truck drivers and warehouse workers nationwide!”
Teamsters Vice President Fred Potter made the following announcements: “This morning, a majority of misclassified independent contractors at Intermodal Bridge Transport (IBT) presented a demand to be recognized first as employees, and to be represented by the Teamsters. Upon receiving no word back, they took up their picket signs and went on strike against the company’s unfair treatment. They demanded a dignified and safe working environment; demanded that the company immediately repair all unsafe trucks and ensure every truck has a functioning Air Conditioning unit; and demanded access to a dignified break room with clean drinking water, proper restrooms, and a place where we can prepare their meals and rest during their long days at work. This is the first time in American history that workers misclassified as independent contractors have simultaneously demanded their rights as employees and their right to form a union.”
“Wage theft isn’t just about misclassification. It’s about workers who are supposed be paid a living wage – and they’re not, Potter said. "And that is happening right here on port property, at the Cal Cartage warehouse, where the company is violating the City’s living wage ordinance. We support these workers and pledge to stand with them throughout their fight to help them secure dignity, respect, and fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work."
On Monday, Oct. 26, port truck drivers misclassified as “independent contractors” began their eighth “Unfair Labor Practice” strike at America’s largest port complex, the twin ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach. The striking drivers included those misclassified as “independent contractors” by Pacific 9 Transportation (Pac 9), who have been on an indefinite strike since July this year for 15 straight weeks, and those employed by global giant XPO Logistics(NYSE: XPO), which has spent $7.34 Billion in the last year expanding their reach in the global supply chain.
On Tuesday, Oct. 27, misclassified drivers from Intermodal Bridge Transport (IBT) began their second Unfair Labor Practice strike after delivering a petition for improved working conditions, recognition as employees, and to be represented by the Teamsters. These drivers are on strike to protest unfair labor practices, including misclassification and retaliation, harassment, and intimidation for having filed claims for wage theft with the California Labor Commissioner’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement.
Today, California Cartage warehouse workers announced that they will be on strike starting Wednesday. In the past year, workers at this warehouse have come together to demand an end to wage theft, unsafe conditions, and irregular schedules at a massive warehouse at the Port of Los Angeles. These workers, who have been coming together with the support of the Warehouse Worker Resource Center, now have the support of the Teamsters Port Division, which has been fighting for justice at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for many years.
“I have worked at Cal Cartage through a staffing agency for years. I’m going on strike because the company is trying to intimidate workers who ask for basic health and safety, good wages and permanent jobs,” said Anthony Vallecillo, a Cal Cartage worker from Wilmington.
Picketing will occur starting Wednesday, October 28, from 7:30-8:30 and 4-5 pm at 2401 E. Pacific Coast Highway, Wilmington, CA, and from 9-5 at Sepulveda and Middle Road, Wilmington, CA 90810.
BACKGROUND ON MISCLASSIFICATION: As America’s lowest wage workers are beginning to see justice with a $15 hourly wage on the horizon, the cries of the millions of American workers who are misclassified as “independent contractors” are reaching a fevered pitch. Spanning employees in the janitorial, e-commerce, entertainment, home care, construction, port truck driving industries these workers are not only robbed of basic workplace protections like the right to minimum wage, overtime pay, and a safe and healthful workplace, but they are also being cheated out of such rudimentary workplace benefits as unemployment compensation when they are laid off; workers’ compensation when they are injured on the job; and the right to form a union have a voice on the job – a voice that allows workers to gain respect, dignity, and the ability to bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions. Misclassification robs workers of these rights.
As “independent contractors,” workers do not have the ability to engage in group activity to protest and resolve workplace issues. Further, misclassification deprives workers of protections afforded “employees” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Port drivers are on the front line challenging this unfair labor practice by filing charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that misclassification itself violates the NLRA (as does retaliation for filing wage and hour claims”).
WAGE THEFT: Employees illegally misclassified as independent contractors are also victims of pervasive wage theft that robs workers of billions of dollars a year. Misclassifying drivers enables trucking companies to shift their business expenses on to the backs of low wage workers who are controlled by the trucking company that employs them. Predatory truck lease schemes bind drivers to their employer. Companies deduct the cost of diesel fuel, insurance, maintenance, parking, even the cost of printing paychecks, leaving drivers with very little or even negative paychecks. Studies have shown that the average port truck driver is subject to $4,000 per month, or $48,000 per year, in wage theft. Without the ability to fight back at their workplace.
TAX FRAUD: Misclassification doesn’t just hurt the workers and their families – it hurts us all through pervasive and wide scale tax fraud that robs our schools, our roads, our public safety services of billions in vital resources.
THE FRONT LINE: On the front line of the fight to end the misclassification/wage theft scheme are the professional truck drivers at our nation’s largest port complex – the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, who haul everyone’s cargo, including Amazon, Costco, and Proctor & Gable. Nearly one-half a trillion dollars in goods per year flow through these ports – more than 40 percent of U.S. imports and exports – yet the men and women who haul these containers on and off the docks to nearby rail yards, distribution centers, and warehouses are denied employee rights. By striking and filing unfair labor practice charges port drivers are fighting back!