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Three Unions Team Up To Organize Port Drivers

December 4, 2001

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The Teamsters and two major longshoremen's unions have teamed up to organize the 50,000 truckers hauling containers out of the nation's ports. The campaign is a joint effort of the Teamsters, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and the International Longshoremen's Assn.

Port truckers have been frustrated by increased congestion and long delays at the ports. Since they're paid by the load, long waits mean less pay. According to the Teamsters, typical pay averages $8 an hour, with no benefits. In addition, they are often saddled with unsafe chassis that are the responsibility of the shipping lines to maintain - but for which the trucker gets the citation on the highway.
There have been previous, unsuccessful efforts to organize these truckers. A major sticking point has been the fact that technically they are independent contractors, who own their own trucks, and are forbidden by federal law to join or organize unions. The Teamsters are overcoming that obstacle by recruiting trucking companies to act as employers of record.
"We hope to build a coalition and put together a national agreement that will mirror the master freight agreement that Jimmy Hoffa put together decades ago," George Cashman, the Teamsters port organizing leader, told the Los Angeles Times.
In announcing the deal at an AFL-CIO convention in Las Vegas Tuesday, Teamsters President James P. Hoffa said that although the three unions have sometimes been in conflict in the past, "This alliance brings to reality the dream my father, Harry Bridges, and Teddy Gleason had more than 40 years ago. They attempted to build a united labor front at the nation's ports - at a time when all three unions were outside of the AFL-CIO. Today we have achieved what they worked so hard to do. Through this alliance, we will take back the ports for the workers."

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