Short-Haul Truckers Return to Work at Port of Seattle

February 15, 2012

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About 400 truckers decided to end their walkout and return to work after two weeks of protesting unfair treatment from trucking firms, reports The Seattle Times.

Although the walkout is ending, talks will continue regarding safety issues including overweight loads and flawed truck chassis owned by freight companies and used by drivers.

"This is an ongoing process," Calvin Borders, of the new Seattle Port Truckers Association, told the Times. "We will continue to fight as time goes on, to make sure these problems will be resolved,"

Several trucking firms have already agreed to pay drivers $44 a trip, an increase from $40 a trip. This extra compensation is meant to cover trips drivers take when they have no loads and the time spent waiting in line.

The Puget Sound Business Journal wrote that one of the issues for these workers is that because they are independent contractors rather than employees of companies, they could not collectively bargain for higher wages or better conditions.

The House in Washington State passed a bill last week to entitle such workers to state health protections and give them the right under state law to unionize.

"They're doing piece work, and historically piecework has been unsustainable," Dave Freiboth, King County Labor Council executive secretary told the Journal. "The teamsters would organize these guys if they were in a legal environment where they could. I think there's a certain amount of interest on a large part of these truckers to be organized, but we have backward labor laws that prevent them from doing it under the National Labor Relations Act."

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