"Sun Pacific didn't pay us for all of our time," said one of the plaintiffs, Jorge Ramirez. "Nearly every day, Sun Pacific would have us work an extra hour here, an extra half-hour there. By the end of the week, all those hours add up. But we would never see our hard-earned money."
The plaintiffs' attorney, Adam Luetto, recently filed a similar class-action lawsuit against Total Transportation Services, another trucking company serving the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
"Port drivers consistently claim that they are forced to drive long hours without breaks and required to perform work they never get paid for," Luetto said. "These drivers, unsurprisingly, are simply tired of working for free and we are working hard to hold their employers responsible for such unlawful employment practices."
In the Teamsters' press release, the union refers to the Port of Los Angeles' Clean Truck Program, which the Teamsters said, "required trucking firms to take full responsibility of their workers and environmentally-compliant trucks.
"The American Trucking Associations, launched a legal assault and obtained a temporary injunction just over a year ago that eroded the program's EPA award-winning standards in order to continue business as usual," the Teamsters said.
The Clean Truck Program has been a point of contention between the trucking industry and such groups as the Teamsters, especially on the issue of whether the Port of Los Angeles should require all drayage drivers to be employees of trucking companies, rather than owner-operators. During a May hearing before the House Subcommittee on Highways and Transit, witnesses on all sides agreed that the ports' efforts to replace old, polluting trucks with cleaner ones have so far been remarkably successful.
The LA port believes that the owner-operator business model simply cannot produce enough revenue to ensure that the truck owner will be able to afford a cleaner engine, said John Holmes, deputy executive director of operations, during the congressional hearing. But the Port of Long Beach, which grants port access to owner-operators as well as drayage lines with employee drivers, has seen no difference in performance between the two.
"Today, the mounting scrutiny continues to raise questions about the legitimacy of the current structure of the port 'drayage' industry," the Teamsters said.