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Jun 26, 2017

TRUCKERS' MISTREATMENT * USA: On California's Ports

* California - Investigation uncovers enterprise corruption and mistreatment of hundreds of truckers

(Video from USA TODAY NETWORK, by Scott Hall - An investigation found a predatory scheme that ensnared thousands of immigrant truck drivers at the port)

--- On two major California ports, the network-wide investigation, details the mistreatment of poor, immigrant truckers on the West Coast. Murphy’s work uncovers how hundreds of workers based out of two key ports in California, ports that serve as the entry point for more than half of America’s imports, are indebted to their employers and work up to 20 hours a day for pay that can drop to pennies per hour... And big box retailers such as Amazon, Wal Mart, and Best Buy heavily depend on the performance of these truckers. Retail giants often hired trucking companies that had been accused of labor violations and spent millions to fight lawmakers that tried to pass worker protections... The problem arose a decade ago when a state environmental law designed to clean up dirty ports backfired and trucking companies passed on the cost of new, cleaner rigs to independent truckers themselves... Drivers, many of them immigrants, are now forced into lease-to-own schemes, an arrangement that experts called a modern form of the outdated sharecropping system... While both state and federal officials are fully aware of the situation, they are often either unable to stop it or simply do not bother to try... 
 Los Angeles & Long Beach, California, USA - USA TODAY - 19 June 2017


* California - Port truckers don’t want clean air rules to eat up their paycheck

... The ports were often the last stop for road-wearier vehicles, helmed by penny-pinching owner-operators who needed to cut expenses and squeeze extra years out of their gear to make a living... Sure, short-haul trucks were often older and dirtier, but they got the job done, he recalled... The new, high-tech, cleaner-burning trucks can top a half-million each — not a figure that most freelance drivers keep in the glove box... Unions and trucking companies have grappled for decades, amid bitterness and strikes and lawsuits, over the employment status of today’s trucker. That’s not going to get easier as the skies get clearer... Drivers say some transit companies, which force them to buy or lease their own equipment and pay their own expenses, are robbing them by categorizing them as independent contractors. They say they’re getting boondoggled out of overtime and medical benefits... But company officials say contractors are not employees meriting such benefits because they set their own schedules and choose their own gear — and that many appreciate the freedom this affords them... Truckers say they want clean air — but not at their expense... 
(Photo - Port truck drivers in the Port of Long Beach)  --  Long Beach, CAL, USA - Long Beach Press Telegram, by Rachel Uranga - 17 June 2017

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