Los Angeles Times

Port truckers plan strike

The company, Pacific 9 Transporta­tion, serves the L. A. and Long Beach ports.

- By Daina Beth Solomon daina. solomon @ latimes. com

Drivers at Pacific 9, a firm that serves the L. A. and Long Beach ports, want to be deemed employees.

Drivers at a trucking company serving the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports plan to walk away from their jobs Tuesday in an ongoing struggle to be deemed employees, a union representa­tive said.

The truckers are also demanding wages they say they are owed by their employer, Pacific 9 Transporta­tion, after working as independen­t contractor­s rather than company employees.

The picket lines, scheduled to go up around the company’s truck yard and port terminals at 6 a. m. Tuesday, will mark the sixth strike against the company in nearly two years, Teamsters Union spokeswoma­n Barbara Maynard said.

She didn’t know how many drivers would abandon their posts but said the strike could go on indefinite­ly.

In the past, drivers returned to work after several days because they needed the income. Some may never return to Pacific 9, Maynard said, because they have a good chance of joining companies that began offering employee status— including hourly wages and medical insurance— as a result of recent strikes against several trucking firms.

EcoFlow Transporta­tion and Shippers Transport Express, for example, now take on drivers as employees and allow unions.

Maynard said the striking drivers hope that Pacific 9will followsuit.

“Our goal is to impact this company so that they actually turn their ship around,” she said.

Pacific 9, which has hauled cargo for Wal- Mart, Costco and CVS, was ordered by the California Labor Commission­er in December to pay three drivers a total of nearly $ 255,000 in back wages and penalties. The company is facing 40 other wage theft claims that show it owes drivers a total of $ 6 million, according to the Teamsters.

The National Labor Relations Board ruled last year that Pacific 9, which has fewer than 100 trucks registered at the L. A. and Long Beach ports, should allow drivers to unionize and post signs informing workers of that right. But the Teamsters say that Pacific 9 never properly did so and that the matter is back under the labor board’s review.

“There’s a fundamenta­l dispute about whether the drivers are employees, as they contend, or independen­t contractor­s, as Pacific 9 contends,” said Thomas Lenz, an attorney representi­ng Pacific 9.

A Pacific 9 spokesman said the company would not comment on the planned strike because it is facing several lawsuits relating to allegation­s of wage theft and worker classifica­tion.

A dozen Teamsters supporters, including Pacific 9 truckers, gathered Monday in downtown L. A. outside the Kenneth Hahn Hall of Administra­tion, where the Los Angeles County Board of Supervisor­s will meet Tuesday to vote on whether to commission a study on wage theft regulation­s.

Amador Rojas, 58, said he has filed a wage theft claim for $ 270,000 covering three years of driving for Pacific 9. In his nine years with the company, Rojas said he has had to cover his own truck lease, repair, insurance and fuel costs.

“All the costs, we pay ourselves,” he said in Spanish. “Sometimes we come out with a negative check” after expenses.

 ?? Mark Boster
Los Angeles Times ?? A SECURITY OFFICER keeps watch on independen­t port truck drivers who are seeking to be classified as company employees during a protest in November.
Mark Boster Los Angeles Times A SECURITY OFFICER keeps watch on independen­t port truck drivers who are seeking to be classified as company employees during a protest in November.

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