On Wednesday, April 30, 2014, striking truck drivers serving the nation’s largest port complex – the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach – returned to work after an historic unfair labor practice strike that marked a dramatic escalation of drivers’ fight for dignity, respect, and a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work.
“With the support of my family, my faith, and the Teamsters, I spent nearly 48 hours on the picket line. We spoke with our feet, with our picket signs, and with our voices, and we know that we have finally been heard. Our resolve has never been stronger: we will not tolerate any form of retaliation, harassment, or intimidation in our fight to have our rights as employees – and our right to form a union – recognized,” said Dennis Martinez, a port truck driver misclassified as an “independent contractor” by Total Transportation Services Inc. “The reason I went on strike is because two of my co-workers were fired when they decided to take a stand, to fight for their rights,” declared striking Green Fleet Driver Byron Contreras in a video message to port truck drivers.
“It is illegal to retaliate against workers like this, and we are united in our demand for justice.” “When the ILWU members refused to cross our picket line at Long Beach Container Terminal, I instantly saw a brighter future for myself, my coworkers and for all port drivers. Together, we will make a stronger port. Together, we will work to be sure that the ports work for everyone, not just the shippers like Walmart, Forever 21, and Skechers Shoes,” said Santiago Aguilar, a driver for Pacific 9 Transportation.
Fed up with years of wage theft and unfair treatment, on Monday, April 28, 2014, port truck drivers from three of Los Angeles’ leading drayage firms – Green Fleet Systems, Pacific 9 Transportation, and Total Transportation Services Inc. – called a 48-hour unfair labor practice strike. Demanding an end to violations of workers’ rights and the pervasive and illegal misclassification as “independent contractors,” the striking drivers for the first time took their fight to the marine container terminals at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
“The strike was highly successful, sending a strong message to the trucking companies, their shipper clients, and the terminal operators that the era of port truck driver exploitation is over. Drivers are fighting back and will not stop until their rights as employees are recognized and the companies stop violating U.S. labor laws,” said Fred Potter, International Vice President and Director of the Port Division, International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 848, which represents port truck drivers employed by the Toll Group in Los Angeles, said, “These brave workers are on the right side of history. They will always be remembered as the ones who went out and took the sacrifice for those who come later.”