Strike planned at L.A. and Long Beach ports

About 100 ware­house work­ers and driv­ers are set to picket three firms next week.

Los Angeles Times - - BUSINESS BEAT - By Jack Flem­ming jack.flem­ming @la­times.com Twit­ter: @jflem94

Around 100 truck driv­ers and ware­house work­ers serv­ing the Los An­ge­les and Long Beach ports plan to launch a strike start­ing Mon­day — their 15th strike in the last four years.

The work­ers and Team­sters union Lo­cal 848 an­nounced the la­bor ac­tion Thurs­day. The truck driv­ers have been push­ing for years to be­come em­ploy­ees rather than in­de­pen­dent con­trac­tors to im­prove pay and workplace pro­tec­tions.

The work­ers are call­ing out the port ci­ties for al­low­ing “greedy cor­po­ra­tions to con­tinue to ex­ploit hard­work­ing men and women through abu­sive and of­ten il­le­gal con­tract­ing-out, mis­clas­si­fi­ca­tion, tem­po­rary staffing and wage theft schemes,” Eric Tate, sec­re­tary-trea­surer for Team­sters union Lo­cal 848, said at a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day at the Port of Los An­ge­les.

Driv­ers and ware­house work­ers will picket XPO Lo­gis­tics ter­mi­nals Mon­day, and they’ll spread their picket lines to In­ter­modal Bridge Trans­port and Cal­i­for­nia Cartage Co. on Tues­day, Tate said.

The strike will last at least through the week, Tate said.

Past strikes have led ter­mi­nals to turn away trucks from tar­geted firms, said Phillip San­field, spokesman for the Port of Los An­ge­les.

Be­cause of the large size of the ports and the amount of com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing there, how­ever, the strikes have had “min­i­mal” ef­fect on port op­er­a­tions, he said.

A rep­re­sen­ta­tive of XPO Lo­gis­tics de­clined to com­ment on the strike threat. Rep­re­sen­ta­tives of In­ter­modal Bridge Trans­port and Cal­i­for­nia Cartage could not be reached for com­ment.

“Truck­ing com­pa­nies have lured driv­ers into abu­sive truck lease schemes and failed to pay them for time worked, re­sult­ing in driver strikes dis­rupt­ing port op­er­a­tions and caus­ing con­ges­tion,” a news re­lease from Jus­tice for Port Truck Driv­ers said.

“I was liv­ing in a church be­cause I couldn’t af­ford rent,” Alberto Are­nas, a Cal­i­for­nia Cartage ware­house worker, said via a trans­la­tor. “I’ve been work­ing here for 12 years and only make $12 an hour, which is not enough to sup­port a family.”

The strike an­nounce­ment fol­lows a pact signed Mon­day by Los An­ge­les Mayor Eric Garcetti and Long Beach Mayor Robert Gar­cia to “move to­ward the goal of zero emis­sions” at the ports and es­tab­lish goals for zero-emis­sion trucks by 2035. The union has com­plained that the goals don’t men­tion the ef­fect on truck driv­ers.

“We think that’s a great idea, but there was no men­tion on how this would im­pact the driv­ers,” Tate said.

He added that when the ports en­acted the Clean Trucks Pro­gram in 2008 to cut down on diesel pol­lu­tion, the driv­ers bore the bulk of the cost.

Allen J. Sch­aben Los An­ge­les Times

ERIC TATE, sec­re­tary-trea­surer for Team­sters Lo­cal 848, speaks at a news con­fer­ence Thurs­day an­nounc­ing strike plans. Set to start Mon­day, the strike would be the 15th in the last four years by work­ers at the ports.

Christina House For The Times

C O N TA I N E R S ready to be un­loaded at the Port of L.A. Dur­ing past strikes, ter­mi­nals have turned away trucks from tar­geted firms, a port spokesman says.

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