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Hundreds Of LA Port Truckers Are Calling For A Union Election

An aerial view of a section of the Port of Los Angeles. Hundreds of cargo containers are lined up and stacked throughout the facility. Three large container ships are docked.
The Port of Los Angeles.
(Mario Tama/Getty Images
Getty Images North America)
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A unique union drive is underway at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.

The organizing effort involves about 250 short-haul truck drivers who move goods from the ports to nearby rail yards and warehouses.

The drivers, who work for XPO Logistics, argue the company has long misclassified them as self-employed contractors to deny them better pay and benefits, which they say would come with employee status.

Under federal law, only employees can unionize, not independent contractors. The drivers are hoping a union election will force a resolution on the question of employment classification.

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Port Truckers Aren’t Paid For Time Waiting To Pick Up Cargo

This week, officials with the Teamsters Union filed paperwork asking the federal National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold an election for the drivers on forming a union.

Teamsters officials said holding an election among workers who are not yet recognized as employees by the company they work for represents a new frontier in union organizing. They hope the NLRB will schedule an election for mid-February.

Domingo Avalos said drivers like him are working long hours for low pay. He said port congestion has led to even longer waits to pick up cargo — time for which drivers are not paid.

Speaking through an interpreter, Avalos said in Spanish, “We leave home very early, when our kids are still sleeping, and we return when they're asleep again … They need to pay us a fair wage.”

XPO: Contractors ‘Welcome To Apply’ For Staff Jobs

Last year, XPO agreed to pay $30 million to settle class-action lawsuits alleging the port truck drivers were being paid less than minimum wage.

An XPO spokesperson told us the company is complying with all relevant laws.

“Any independent contractor with a commercial driver’s license who wants to work for XPO as a full-time employee is welcome to apply for any number of truck driver openings offered by XPO,” said XPO vice president of public relations Joe Checkler in a written statement. He said XPO currently employs about 12,000 full-time truck drivers nationwide and is recruiting more.

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