Port Truck Driver Victory Fuels Others to Take Actionby Jana Ritter - Published: 11/10/2014
After two port truck drivers scored a significant victory last week with a court ruling that forced Green Fleet Systems to re-instate their jobs with full time employee status, other port truck drivers are encouraged to take new action as well. They have urged the Harbor Commission to take legal steps against their employers who have also been misclassifying them as independent contractors. They claim the misclassification has also meant stealing wages that they should be earning as full time employees and that dozens of truck drivers were wrongly fired in for striking over the matter last summer.
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While the top dogs at the Port of Los Angeles have promised them that solutions are on the way, the truck drivers also told the Harbor Commissioners they were already planning on striking again because they have been wrongfully retaliated against by their employers even after they stopped picketing this summer only because Mayor Eric Garcetti asked them to.
In the meantime, Amilcar Cardona, one of the truck drivers who was fired by Green Fleet returned to work today as a full time employee, but he said he’s still being mistreated and demanded that both the mayor and harbor officials take action. “I wanted you to be aware that very soon we will go on strike. I am asking, please do something, because the court has already decided I am an employee”, he said.
Harbor Department Executive Director Gene Seroka, said that he understands the drivers’ plight and promised that he will find ways to help. He explained that the port only benefits if workers are paid fair wages, “so we’re in alignment on that.”In fact, Seroka said that the Harbor Department has already started working with city officials and the mayor to come up with possible solutions and that there have also been discussions underway with truck drivers about possible alternative solutions. Seroka said he thinks there will be some momentum on in the weeks ahead.
When Mayor Garcetti negotiated the “cooling off” period last summer between the drivers and their employers, he had also instructed the Harbor Department to look into the trucker drivers’ allegations. Harbor officials said today said that report is expected to be ready for review by December.
Even Commissioner Patricia Castellanos express her allegiance with the truck drivers. “As far as I can tell, these drivers respected that cooling-off period for the last few months, by not picketing the port’s terminals and not going on strike, “et during that same period, I also understand 35 drivers have been fired in retaliation for their activities. With the court battle that ultimately resulted in two workers returning to work today taking nine to 10 months to complete, I cannot in good conscience ask these drivers to be patient,” Castellanos said.
What do you think the best, immediate solution should be?