Truck Drivers At Ports Of LA, Long Beach Strike Over Employee Status

The drayage firms being targeted by picketers are: Pacific 9 Transportation, with offices in Carson and Long Beach; Harbor Rail Transport, with an office in Rancho Dominguez; Intermodal Bridge Transport, with an office in Long Beach; and Pacer Cartage, with offices in Commerce and San Diego. The truckers did not immediately say how long the job action would last.

The drivers also announced that "11th hour negotiations'' had resulted in a "comprehensive labor peace agreement'' between the Teamsters union and the Green Fleet Systems drayage firm. Details of that agreement were not disclosed.

About 200 of the estimated 500 drivers associated with the four companies were on the picket lines today, and the job action will expand to cargo terminals later today, a Teamsters union representative said during a conference call announcing the strike at 7 a.m. Pacific time. Some secondary picketing will target specific trucks as they arrive at other locations.

Truck drivers have been fighting drayage firms since 2012 over being classified as independent contractors rather than employees entitled to employee rights and protections.

In a statement, drivers said that since a drivers' strike in November 2014 and a subsequent U.S. Labor Department ruling, a major drayage company, Shippers Transport Express, reclassified its independent contractor drivers.

"The Shippers drivers' victory has inspired other misclassified drivers to escalate their demands to be recognized as employees and end the wage theft. In their fight to hold onto an illegal business model, company owners are continuing to harass, intimidate and coerce drivers,'' the statement said in explaining the reason for the strike vote.

"Unwilling to wait for the courts to rule as they did in the Shippers case, the drivers have launched a national petition asking Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia to ban lawbreaking for profits from both ports,'' it said.