The strike began last Monday when the drivers for three firms (Green Fleet Systems, Pacific 9 Transportation and Total Transportation Services) formed a picket line due to poor working conditions. The firms have a combined 400 trucks, which handle only 4% – 9% of the ports’ traffic on any given day. Even so, the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports closed briefly on Tuesday morning when dockworkers decided to honor the trucker’s picket line. The ports reopened by noon, however, after an arbitrator ruled the dock workers were required to return to work.
The trucker’s main complaint is they have been classified by the firms as independent contractors when in reality they are full-time employees, and the firms are doing this so they can pay them less and give them fewer workplace benefits and protections. They claim their wages are often less than minimum wage after the costs of renting and maintaining their truck is taken into account. The companies say they pay a good wage, and those picketing are in the minority. The truckers striking in no way represent how the majority of drivers feel about working conditions.
Any major disruption to the ports can cause a ripple effect which can cost millions of dollars a day to the economy. In fact, the strike came at a time dockworkers continue to try to hammer out a new contract with 29 ports on the West Coast. While the old contract has expired, both side are continuing to work in good faith to come to agreeable terms for both sides.
(Photo courtesy of Louie Baur)