Photo: Port of Long Beach

Photo: Port of Long Beach

The Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously on Dec. 12 to investigate a ban of trucking and warehousing companies that break local, state, and federal employment laws from operating on city property.

The motion directs City Attorney Mike Feuer to submit a written report advising the City of Los Angeles on what options it has to mandate fair wages and working conditions for companies servicing the Port of Los Angeles. The report is also to determine if the city’s land use laws can be used to deny access to port property of companies that have repeatedly violated state and federal employment laws in a similar manner to how the city  responds to nuisance activities.

The motion specifically targets companies that have been accused of denying drivers fair wages, rights, and benefits by not classifying them as full employees, which groups like Justice for Port Truck Drivers characterize as driver misclassification.

In the official summary of the City Council’s motion, it makes reference to the controversial USA Today report that described the plight of certain drivers working at the Ports of L.A. and Long Beach who took home little pay and worked long hours just to pay off their truck leases.

That story has been challenged by port trucking companies and stakeholders that claim that USA Today exaggerated the extent of the problem, cherrypicking stories for their extremeness and ignoring the majority of drivers who have made the independent contractor business model work.

The City Council’s summary stated that since 2010, at least 1,150 port truck drivers have filed claims in civil court or with the labor commission against these trucking companies. It further states that judges have sided with drivers 97% of the time.

 Council Member and Committee Chair Joe Buscaino stated that it was "unacceptable for companies to profit on city property while exploiting human beings." The motion was sponsored by Council Members Buscaino, Bob Blumenfield, and Mike Bonin.

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