Around 100 truck drivers and warehouse workers serving the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports plan to launch a strike starting Monday — their 15th strike in the last four years.
The workers and Teamsters union Local 848 announced the labor action Thursday. The truck drivers have been pushing for years to become employees rather than independent contractors to improve pay and workplace protections.
The workers are calling out the port cities for allowing “greedy corporations to continue to exploit hard-working men and women through abusive and often illegal contracting-out, misclassification, temporary staffing and wage theft schemes,” Eric Tate, secretary-treasurer for Teamsters union Local 848, said at a news conference Thursday at the Port of Los Angeles.
Drivers and warehouse workers will picket XPO Logistics terminals Monday, and they’ll spread their picket lines to Intermodal Bridge Transport and California Cartage Co. on Tuesday, Tate said.
The strike will last at least through the week, Tate said.
Past strikes have led terminals to turn away trucks of companies from striking firms, said Phillip Sanfield, spokesman for the Port of Los Angeles.
Because of the large size of the ports and the amount of companies operating there, however, the strikes have had “minimal” effect on port operations, he said.
A representative of XPO Logistics declined to comment on the strike threat. Representatives of Intermodal Bridge Transport and California Cartage could not be reached for comment.
“Trucking companies have lured drivers into abusive truck lease schemes and failed to pay them for time worked, resulting in driver strikes disrupting port operations and causing congestion,” a news release from Justice for Port Truck Drivers said.
“I was living in a church because I couldn’t afford rent,” Alberto Arenas, a warehouse worker for California Cartage, said through a translator. “I’ve been working here for 12 years and only make $12 an hour, which is not enough to support a family.”
The strike announcement follows a pact signed Monday by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia to “move toward the goal of zero emissions” at the ports and establish goals for zero-emission trucks by 2035. The union has complained that the goals don’t mention the effect on truck drivers.
“We think that’s a great idea, but there was no mention on how this would impact the drivers,” Tate said.
He added that when the ports enacted the Clean Trucks Program in 2008 to cut down on diesel pollution, the drivers bore the bulk of the cost.