Miami Port Truckers Return To Work
February 22, 2000
Independent truckers at the Port of Miami are returning to work this week after a two-week wildcat strike that sometimes turned violent.
Although some drivers are still off the job, the association representing the trucking companies, the Florida Independent Truckers Assn. told the Miami Herald that conditions are getting back to normal.
Thousands of containers that have been sitting at the docks have been moving out of the port at a furious pace. Miami-Dade County officials estimate that the strike cost the community $2.5 million, and that doesn't include the lost wages of the more than 1,000 truckers on strike or of the workers at the port and warehouses laid off during the strike.
The truckers and companies were finally able to make headway Friday when trucking companies agreed to meet individually with their drivers on pay. Because the drivers are independent contractors, collective bargaining would be against federal anti-trust laws. The Miami Herald reports that a number of trucking companies appear to have raised their driver compensation by about 10%. Rates to customers will be adjusted.
One area where truckers didn't appear to make much headway is on the issue of insurance. The trucking companies force the truckers to buy standardized insurance through the companies. Drivers say some companies use the in-house insurance sales as a profit center. Truckers wanted to be able to buy insurance on the open market, which they say would cut premiums in half. Dan Sumner, general counsel for Florida Insurance Commissioner Bill Nelson, last week said he would review the issue and get back to the truckers within 10 days.
The strike at times turned violent, with reports of broken windshields, gunshots and spikes in the road. Drivers who were not part of the strike were threatened, and one driver reported that someone tried to run him off the road. Five truck brokers filed a lawsuit last week, saying that protesters used "intimidation, threats and acts of violence" to force other truckers not to work.