Port truck drivers in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach said Saturday afternoon that they have agreed to a “cooling off” period requested by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti after trucking companies targeted by the protesters agreed to allow all drivers to return to work without retaliation or requiring them to sign away all future rights.
According to Justice for Port Truck Drivers
, which is part of the Teamsters Port Division, the drivers voted unanimously to end what they were calling an "unfair labor strike" against three firms — Green Fleet Systems, Total Transportation Services, Inc., and Pacific 9 Transportation. The drivers said they have been misclassified as independent owner-operators instead of employees and are owed wages.
Justice for Port Truck Drivers said about 120 drivers from the three companies participated in the strike. The drivers will now "return to work on their regular shifts," the group added.
“We are grateful to L.A. Mayor Garcetti for meeting with us and hearing our concerns. We have accepted his request for a 'cooling off,' but if the companies retaliate against us again, we will immediately go back on strike,” said Carlos Martinez, a driver at TTSI.
Meanwhile, members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union and employers continued negotiations into the weekend on a new contract to cover 20,000 longshoremen working at 29 West Coast ports, including Los Angeles and Long Beach, the nation's busiest port complex. They are negotiating a pact to replace the six year agreement that expired on July 1.
The ILWU and PMA issued a joint statement late Friday
saying they had "resumed negotiations following a three-day break during which the ILWU was engaged in an unrelated negotiation in the Pacific Northwest” with grain elevator operators. They added, “Although there is currently no contract in place, both parties have pledged to keep cargo moving."
There had been heightened concern on Friday that the Teamster protests might affect operations in the Port of Los Angeles and Long Beach if ILWU members chose not to cross their picket lines. In the past, as recently as last Tuesday, arbitrators have ruled that picket lines thrown up by drayage drivers are not "bona fide," and ILWU workers have gone back to work. On Friday, a temporary extension of the ILWU-PMA contract expired, and with it, the arbitration process the two sides have agreed upon, but the two sides offered their reassurance that they intended to keep up the flow of cargo.
Dozens of drayage drivers spoke at a meeting of the L.A. Harbor Commission on July 10 to explain their grievances and ask for help.
Following the meeting, Garcetti issued a statement in which he said, “I take allegations regarding worker safety, poor working conditions and unfair labor practices very seriously. Accordingly, I am directing my harbor commission to fully investigate the serious health and safety issues raised at today’s commission meeting and report back to me.”
However, Green Fleet, one of the companies being targeted in the Teamster protests, said, “An overwhelming majority of contractors and drivers affiliated with Green Fleet don't want these groups involved in their work.
"Green Fleet will continue to service its customers and pay its drivers some of the best rates in the industry while doing so."
The Long Beach Press Telegram reported that drivers for Green Fleet and Pacific 9 gathered on Thursday to speak out against the Teamsters' organizing effort, saying they wanted to remain independent operators.