Sharecropping on Wheels

A strike can occur at anytime among people in the trucking industry, but for truck drivers at the port, it might some special meaning. Last fall, port truck drivers in Los Angeles went on strike, and eventually went back to work. The reasons for the strike stem from an alleged misclassification of truck drivers as independent contractors (and not employees), lost wages and having to wait on long lines. The big issue is being labeled as independent contractors. The International Brothers of Teamsters say that 80% of port truck drivers are misclassified. Over the past 30 years, a deregulated shipping industry allowed the drivers to be called independent contractors, instead of employees. This meant that the truck drivers have to pay for their own expenses. The result of this system has been lower freight shipping rates, but many truck drivers refer to this as “sharecropping on wheels” and are trying to fight this.

Even though this strike concluded in the fall, the National Labor Relations Board recently reached a determination in favor of the workers. According to the ruling, these truck drivers must have the right to unionize. Some experts anticipate that if these particular truck drivers unionize, the result could help improve some efficiency issues in a supply chain. Even after this ruling, the situation currently remains the same and these truck drivers have not officially formed a union yet. Along with the freight forwarders, we shall wait and see if there are any changes on this important issue in the shipping industry.