Port Truckers Carry Through On Promise Of Protests
February 18, 2000
The Teamsters Union along with port truckers carried through with their promise to rally at several of the nation's ports on Friday.
The protests were in Baltimore, Charleston, SC; Jacksonville, FL; Los Angeles/Long Beach; New York/New Jersey; Savannah, GA, and Seattle.
Initial reports indicate that the demonstrations were peaceful and there was little disruption of operations at the ports except in Baltimore and Charleston. The turnout at the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach was far less than expected, with about 150-200 trucks convoying from the ports into downtown Los Angeles to give city officials copies of the Port Truckers Bill of Rights.
These weren't the first protests at many of the ports in the past few months over working conditions, including poor treatment by terminal operators and driver pay. Friday marked the first coordinated nationwide protests. The sudden surge in diesel fuel prices, especially in the Northeast, was at the top of many of these independent trucker's minds, who have taken a financial beating with diesel prices reaching well past $2 a gallon. Demonstrators also pushed a Port Truckers Bill of Rights that lists their demands
The drivers also want to form a union, but they first have to convince the courts and the National Labor Relations Board they have such a right. Currently, federal law prohibits independent contractors from collectively bargaining.
Meanwhile, a two-week-old wildcat strike continues at the Port of Miami. This one is not connected to the Teamsters-organized port rallies last week in other areas of the country, and there have been reports of violence.