Miami Strike Leaders Say They're Being Blacklisted
May 11, 2000
Miami port truckers may have won concessions after striking in February,
but strike leaders are now saying they have been blacklisted, and truckers report few improvements.
According to a report in the Broward Daily Business Review, Support Trucking Group leader Orestes Guas says he only recently began driving again. "Every time I went for a job, they say, 'We're not hiring, it's kind of slow.'" Guas told the paper that he found out the only ones who hadn't started working were himself and several other leaders of the strike.
Although as independent contractors, the truckers could not legally engage in formal negotiations, the truckers nonetheless won agreements from individual shippers after their strike shut down the port. Some companies promised higher pay per load, others fuel surcharges. The Florida insurance commissioner promised to investigate the truckers' complaints that they were being gouged on insurance they were forced to buy through the companies. Port officials promised to improve facilities to reduce wait times.
But truckers are still complaining about delays at the port and getting gouged for insurance. Some truckers say delays are even worse now than before the strike. Port officials disagree, saying they have added extra manpower to move containers faster and have been enhancing and computerizing gate systems. The port is handling record amounts of cargo.
Jose Lopez Sr., secretary-treasurer of Support Trucking Group, told the paper he hasn't worked since February. He said the owner of the shipping company where he used to work told him he could come back, but only at the bottom of the seniority list, putting him at the end of the line each morning for pickups. The owner told the paper he was justified in dropping Lopez's seniority because the driver almost put him out of business.
The attorney who represented Support Trucking Group as well as the Support Dump Trucking Group, which held work protests during the same time, said truckers who were the most vocal during the strike have definitely been blackballed.
In addition, five companies joined forces to sue the dump truck group and several of its leaders, charging that the truckers' activities violate state and federal antitrust laws.