Photo via Justice for Port Drivers

Photo via Justice for Port Drivers

Port truck drivers from four trucking companies continued picketing at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, disrupting cargo operations across Southern California. The drivers allege that they are being misclassified as independent contractors. 

Drivers were stationed at port marine terminals waiting to picket as company vehicles arrived. However, few port terminal operators allowed trucks from the affected companies to pick up and drop off containers, mitigating the strike’s effect on port activity.  

The Port of Los Angeles, through its Twitter account, downplayed any disruption from the strike, Tweeting, “Trucking protests are directed at 4 (out of 800) companies that serve this complex. Cargo continues to move through the #PortofLA unimpeded.”

Drivers at Intermodal Bridge Transport, Pacific 9 Transportation, Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport put up picket lines at trucking company headquarters and truck yards that continued through Monday night into Tuesday.

With terminals refusing to allow trucks to pick up or drop off cargo at the ports, retail clients of the four trucking companies took the brunt of the distruption. 

The strike was not limited to the South Bay of Los Angeles and spanned as far south as Toyota’s Otay Mesa facility just north of the Mexico border, which is serviced by trucks from Pacer Cartage.

The drivers believe that they are misclassified as independent contractors and are victims of wage theft as a result, according to the union group Justice for Port Drivers. As Independent contractors, the drivers claim they are subject to companies making pay deductions for costs and are not truly independent of the company they lease the truck from.

The Harbor Trucking Association, which represents many of the local trucking companies servicing the ports, contends that the actions of the striking truckers “do not represent the sentiments of the overwhelming majority of owner-operators serving the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.”

“The majority of owner-operators in the port prefer to remain independent contractors,” said Weston LaBar, HTA executive director in a release. “They have a greater opportunity to make a decent income and they have greater flexibility over the hours in which they work.”

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