MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: May 28, 2020
CONTACT: Adan Alvarez, [email protected]
Elana Bodow, [email protected]
Matt Lopez, [email protected]
TODAY: Teamsters to Distribute Masks, Food to Port Truck Drivers Impacted by COVID-19
Majority of Truck Drivers Report Declining Pay as Illegal Misclassification as Independent Contractors Squeezes Income Further
SAN PEDRO — As truck drivers at the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach continue to face illegal misclassification as independent contractors, declining wages, and unsafe working conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Thursday will host a food bank to assist those in need, in partnership with the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Labor Community Services, and the Los Angeles County Food Bank. The food bank, which will be conducted as a socially-distanced drive-thru, will also be an opportunity for truck drivers to pick up masks, as their employers have overwhelmingly failed to provide them with proper PPE.
According to a recent survey of Los Angeles port truck drivers, 82% of drivers say they have no paid sick days and 84% do not have health insurance through their job. A full 70% do not feel that the company they drive for is doing enough to keep them safe at work. In April, 68% reported less pay over the previous month as cargo at the ports have dropped and wait times have increased.
WHAT: Food drive and mask distribution for port truck drivers struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
WHEN: Thursday, May 28 from 1:00 p.m. — 6:00 p.m. PDT
WHERE: 300 Ferry Street, San Pedro
LONGSTANDING ILLEGAL MISCLASSIFICATION LEAVES TRUCK DRIVERS VULNERABLE
The vast majority of port drivers were already illegally misclassified as independent contractors prior to the pandemic, leaving them vulnerable to trucking companies that force drivers into debt and routinely deduct truck payments from their paychecks. Additionally, port truck drivers do not feel safe at work, as trucking companies and the ports fail to take necessary precautions, and drivers fear for their health as they are forced to choose between insurmountable medical bills or going to the doctor for a check-up. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has long stood with misclassified drivers in their fight for fairness and for the wages and rights they deserve.
Earlier this month, truck drivers who work at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach circled their trucks around the Port of Los Angeles administrative building and delivered a petition demanding greater protections amid the COVID-19 crisis. The drivers’ demands include: proper PPE, paid sick leave, immediate cash assistance, free COVID-19 testing, social distancing procedures, and a suspension of payment requirements related to truck loans and leases.
The Ports have the power to ensure the trucking companies are law-abiding partners, and Mayors Garcetti and Garcia can provide the Ports with that guidance. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters urges them to do so.
Full text of petition delivered by drivers:
Port Drivers Need Protections and Paid Leave ASAP!!!
To: Port of LA and Port of Long Beach Harbor Commissioners
We port drivers at the Ports of LA and Long Beach are fed up with how careless the ports continue to be with our safety. As drivers we move truck-loads of goods from the ports to warehouses and come into contact with a wide variety of people, equipment and facilities. We are worried about our own safety and that of our families. We are worried about how we will continue to pay for our trucks, insurance costs and our family expenses without our regular income.
We are considered “essential workers” but we are treated like garbage. We share phones, speakers and other equipment when we check in at the port terminals but there isn’t any protective gear such as gloves or masks provided. Many of us are immigrants and we work hard so that people all over the country have the things they need on the store shelves and so our hospitals get the medical equipment they need.
We demand and deserve for our survival that the following is done immediately:
- Provide drivers cash assistance right now including access to unemployment and other payments to replace our lost income.
- Make sure we can take paid leave so that we are able to stay home when we are sick and take care of our families.
- Suspend all payment requirements for truck loans, leases and insurance.
- Provide free Covid-19 testing and treatment for all drivers because most of us do not have health insurance.
- Provide us masks, gloves and other personal protective gear.
- Wipe down and disinfect the speakers, phones and other shared equipment after each person uses it.
- Provide hand washing stations, hand sanitizer, and clean bathrooms at all port facilities.
- Enforce social distancing at the ports.