Teamsters Port Division reacts to tentative agreement averting West Coast port shut down
posted by AJOT | Feb 23 2015 at 05:59 AM | Ports & Terminals
Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, CA – Friday evening, West Coast dockworkers represented by the ILWU and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) announced a tentative agreement had been reached. The Teamsters Port Division made the following statement:
“The truck drivers who haul containers on and off the docks at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are breathing a collective sigh of relief with the news that the ILWU and the PMA have reached a tentative contract. Because the vast majority of port truck drivers are misclassified as independent contractors, every day that the ports are shut down, the drivers have gone further into the financial hole because they are paid by the load, and – even when the port is shut down – the boss has continued to deduct the cost of the truck, insurance, and even parking of the company truck at their own yard from their paychecks. This is wage theft and it is illegal. The longshoreman have fought for more than 100 years for a seat at the economic table; it is now the truckers turn. The Teamsters will continue to support the drivers’ fight for a seat at the economic table until justice is served.”
The tentative agreement between West Coast dockworkers and the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA) comes just days after the Teamsters, Pacific Gateway Workforce Investment Network – a public agency providing employment services to workers in the harbor communities – and regional community service groups announced the formation of a Rapid Response Team to assist port drivers in the event of a port shut down. The shut down would have idled more than 10,000 port truck drivers misclassified as “independent contractors” without pay or apparent access to unemployment benefits.
In the last year, the California Labor Commissioner, the Employment Development Department (EDD), and California courts have determined port drivers at some port trucking companies are being unlawfully misclassified and are in fact employees; thus, the Teamsters pledged to help drivers qualify for employee benefits and assistance. With the help of the Teamsters, non-union misclassified drivers have won unemployment benefits when they got laid off from their jobs, overcoming challenges by their employers who had not been paying their unemployment taxes. Drivers are also winning disability and workman’s compensation cases when they get injured; they are being awarded back pay for illegal deductions from their paychecks (wage theft); and they have won their jobs back when they were illegally fired for standing up for their rights.