Truck drivers who serve the Southern Californian ports of Los Angeles, Long Beach and San Diego have gone on strike.
Workers from four separate trucking companies began at 6.30am on Monday April 27 and container terminals were picketed.
There are around 16,000 truckers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach working for 800 companies. However, only 500 truckers work for the four companies targeted and, of those, US media reported that only 200 were on the picket lines on Monday.
Long Beach CEO Jon Slangerup said that only four of his port’s 22 terminal operations were targeted and added that, even at these four terminals, dockworkers have reported to work and truckers have been able to work as normal. He predicted that there would be no problems caused to the port as a result of the action.
The drivers want better wages, union representation and to be re-classified as company employees, instead of independent contractors. They claim that the company owns the trucks they drive but that drivers are forced to pay for fuel and maintenance of the trucks, costing at least US$150 a day.
The trucking companies are Pac 9 Transportation, Pacer Cartage, Harbor Rail Transport and Intermodal Bridge Transport. They have argued that pay is good and the striking workers do not represent the majority of their colleagues. They also criticised the timing of the strike, which comes as the ports are trying to clear the backlog caused by previous congestion problems.
Another company, Green Fleet Systems, narrowly avoided the strike by announcing that it had reached a labour peace agreement with the Teamsters Union which guaranteed the right to union representation.