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Truck drivers strike at SoCal ports

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Independent truck drivers participated in a port-focused strike in November. (Credit: Mark Boster/Los Angeles Times)

SAN DIEGO — Port truck drivers walked picket lines at an Otay Mesa freight drayage company Monday morning as they and their counterparts in Los Angeles and Long Beach went on strike against the short haul transport companies for which they work.

Drivers working at ports in San Diego, Los Angeles and Long Beach voted Saturday to strike following a recent ruling that the drivers are misclassified as “independent contractors.” They claim the misclassification allows companies to pay them less than minimum wage, a spokeswoman for the drivers said in a statement.

The drayage firms being targeted by picketers are: Pacer Cartage, with offices in San Diego and Commerce; Pacific 9 Transportation, with offices in Carson and Long Beach; Harbor Rail Transport, with an office in Rancho Dominguez; and Intermodal Bridge Transport, with an office in Long Beach.

About 200 of the estimated 500 drivers associated with those four companies were on the picket lines. The truckers did not immediately say how long the job action would last.

The failure to pay drivers as employees has created an annual $850 million in liability for the industry stemming from wage and hour violations. A single drivers can end up being shortchanged up to $60,000 a year, the statement said.

The labor dispute began in Los Angeles and Long Beach three years ago when drivers sued the drayage companies over the misclassification, and filed various claims and class action suits for wage theft. They began striking over the issue the labor dispute the following year.

Drivers for Shippers Transport Express have since been reclassified as company employees, but other drayage companies have not followed suit.

The drivers announced today that “11th hour negotiations” had resulted in a “comprehensive labor peace agreement” between the Teamsters union and the Green Fleet Systems drayage firm. Details of that agreement were not disclosed.

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