Truck drivers that shuttle containers to and from the Port of Los Angeles began a 24-hour strike against employer, Green Fleet Systems, at the start of the 5 p.m. shift on Monday, the Teamsters union said.
The workers are protesting harassment and intimidation by company management, according to an International Brotherhood of Teamsters news release.
Drivers set up picket lines at the Green Fleet warehouse in Carson, Calif., and teams of strikers are following trucks driven by other workers and picketing them when they deliver at customer warehouses and distribution centers, including shoe maker Sketchers' DC in Moreno Valley, the union said.
Most drayage companies exclusively contract with independent drivers who own and operate their trucks to pick up and deliver containers for beneficial cargo owners. Green Fleet uses both employee drivers and independent contractors.
The Teamsters is trying to gain enough support among company drivers to form a union, but claims the company is using unfair tactics to discourage participation.
The Teamsters' Port Division has waged a years-long campaign to try and unionize the drayage industry, but is prevented by law from organizing unions for collective bargaining when workers are owner-operators. The union and other activists claim the truckers are misclassified as independent businessmen because their work requirements essentially make them employees, but who bear the risk and expense for the equipment and are poorly compensated. The groups are trying to get local logistics companies to change their practices and hire the drivers as employees, but companies say that would significantly increases costs, reduce their ability to flex capacity with demand and prevent drivers from controlling their work activity.
The National Labor Relations Board is reviewing complaints filed by the Teamsters alleging that Green Fleet
is retaliating against pro-union drivers and using other intimidating tactics, such as questioning individuals about their potential support of the union.
The California Labor Commissioner has awarded about $280,000 to four Green Fleet contractors in separate cases since last October for improperly deducting pay for lease payments for their trucks, insurance, parking and expenses. - Eric Kulisch