Houston Port Truckers Call Off Shutdown
June 2, 2000
Teamsters Local 988 in Houston last week called off a planned organizing rally of port truckers after 16 trucking companies filed suit.
According to a report in the Houston Chronicle, the trucking companies are suing the local and four union representatives for allegedly violating federal antitrust laws. The suit claims that the union is illegally negotiating hiring agreements with competing companies. The agreements call for the competitors to hire the drivers as employees if the companies for which they currently drive refuse to recognize them as employees. The lawsuit says that would give the competitors an unfair advantage.
The lawsuit also said these activities violate the antitrust laws by trying to "restrict trade to their advantage by controlling the flow of goods and materials being trucked from the Port of Houston."
The suit prompted the union to call off a plan to "shut down" the trucking companies last Thursday. Union officials said 1,200 truck drivers had expressed an interest in participating in the organizing meeting and convoy.
Port drivers in Houston, like those nationwide, want better pay to help compensate for higher fuel prices. Many want to be considered employees rather than independent contractors so that they can legally join a union and get benefits like health insurance.