Labor Events and Resources Blog

Thursday, January 10, 2013

Truckers Union Reaches Collective Bargaining Agreement With Los Angeles, Long Beach Ports

In a development union officials say could change the nature of trucking at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, about 65 drivers have reached contract terms with their employer, likely making them the first truckers at the port complex to win a collective bargaining agreement since Congress deregulated the industry three decades ago.The drivers, who first voted to align with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters in April 2012, haul goods, mainly from the ports to retail warehouses in the Inland Empire, for Australian logistics company Toll Group. The drivers will receive considerable raises, subsidized health care and access to a pension plan, according to union officials...

Unions at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are perhaps stronger than anywhere else in the country, with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union showing in its recent eight-day strike that it is powerful enough to shut down most of the activity on the docks. But truck drivers have largely been left out, with many working longer hours for considerably less money than their counterparts in the longshore union. The reason: Unlike Toll Group, which made a somewhat unusual business decision to hire its drivers, many trucking firms treat drivers as independent contractors, who are not permitted to form a labor union under the National Labor Relations Act. Only employees can seek to form a union...

Teamsters officials have urged federal and state regulators to examine the relationship many trucking companies have with their drivers, noting that willfully misclassifying workers is illegal. (Workers generally can be called independent contractors only if they have a large degree of control over when and where they work.)  Union officials also have asked large manufacturers to re-examine their relationships with trucking companies. In the Toll campaign, union officials repeatedly appealed to many of the company's clients - retailers and manufacturers including Guess?, Polo and Under Armour - in hopes those companies would place pressure on the trucking firm to sign a contract..

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