Labor Day and the Truck Drivers Are Not Driving
L.A. Port Truck Driver Strike Kicks Off Season Of Labor Unrest
Teamsters To Join Large Rally Tomorrow To Support Workers
CARSON, CA--Aug. 26, 2013: Port truck drivers at the Port of Los Angeles went on a 24-hour Unfair Labor Practice strike today against their employer, Green Fleet Systems (GFS), at the start of the 5 p.m. shift. They are striking to protest harassment and intimidation by company management.
Striking port drivers set up picket lines at the Green Fleet warehouse in Carson, Calif. Teams of strikers in cars are following trucks driven by scabs and picketing them when they deliver at customer warehouses and distribution centers -- including Skechers' state-of-the-art national distribution center in Moreno Valley, Calif.
"This is dangerous work that we do. GFS management says that we are professional drivers, but they do not treat us professionally," said Jose Rodriguez, a driver at Carson-based Green Fleet Systems. "We deserve to have respect on the job as well as fair benefits and a pension. This is a fight against exploitation, in every job I have worked I have been exploited and treated without respect, and that needs to stop."
The drivers are continuing their fight against Green Fleet Systems, which spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on union busters. Drivers filed charges with Region 21 of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The NLRB investigated Green Fleet and issued an Unfair Labor Practice complaint alleging the company broke federal labor law with retaliatory anti-union actions. Drivers are striking to protest these ULPs.
The port drivers are, for the first time, joining the ranks of workers fed up with being abused by powerful corporations. Corporate greed is turning America into a Third World country of exploited workers who don't earn enough money to afford food, clothing and rent. The Los Angeles port truck drivers' strike precedes a national fast-food workers strike planned for Thursday, and more job actions are expected in the coming weeks.
Rodriguez works hard driving for GFS so he can support his wife and two sons, now in college. The company has spent thousands of dollars on union-busters and publicists to intimidate Jose and his coworkers. It allows anti-union workers to put posters in their cars that depict the pro-union workers as donkeys.
"I feel that is very disrespectful, we should be treated with more respect at work," Rodriguez said.
"The port truck drivers who went on strike tonight are everyday heroes, leading the way for more than one hundred thousand port drivers around the country who are fighting for a decent wage that sustains their families, for affordable healthcare, and for a secure retirement," said Bishop Bonnie Radden of Refiner's Fire Fellowship of UCC church. "Our prayers are with them and their families as they take this noble stand and fight for justice."
Though the striking Green Fleet drivers are employees, the vast majority of port truck drivers across the United States are misclassified as "independent contractors" and don't have the same right as employees to form a union. Companies also misclassify employees to avoid paying taxes, to shift business expenses to drivers and to avoid paying drivers for all hours worked. Misclassified drivers in California have brought the fight to the boss by filing wage and hour claims estimated to amount to millions in stolen wages.