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Sen. Gonzalez, Sen. Durazo, Asm. Carrillo to Unveil Legislative Package to Protect Essential Port Truck Drivers

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: April 5, 2021

Contact: Matt Lopez, Matt.Lopez[at]berlinrosen.com

*PRESS CONFERENCE AT 11:30am*

MON: Sen. Gonzalez, Sen. Durazo, Asm. Carrillo to Unveil Legislative Package to Protect Essential Port Truck Drivers

Pandemic underscores urgency of justice for misclassified port truck drivers  who are denied key rights including sick leave, health insurance, workers’ comp, unemployment insurance 

Following press conference, Senate to hold hearing on SB 338, key component of package

SACRAMENTO — A year into a pandemic that has devastated essential workers and their communities, Senator María Elena Durazo, Senator Lena Gonzalez and Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo will hold a press conference Monday in support of a legislative package designed to protect California’s essential port truck drivers and increase accountability for trucking companies who misclassify drivers as independent contractors. Through misclassification, trucking companies exploit drivers and rob California of valuable tax revenue, while at the same time benefiting from taxpayer subsidies.

International Brotherhood of Teamsters Port Division Director Ron Herrera and Port of Los Angeles driver Juan Giraldo will join the elected officials for the press conference unveiling the package, which includes SB 338 (Gonzalez), AB 794 (Carrillo) and SB 700 (Durazo). 

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the urgency of legislation addressing the crisis of worker misclassification that is rampant at California’s ports. Trucking companies systematically misclassify port truck drivers as independent contractors instead of employees, denying drivers basic protections like sick leave, unemployment and disability insurance, worker compensation, wage and hour protections, and health insurance. 

At the same time, trucking companies force these drivers to pay for all of the business expenses that the companies are legally responsible for, including things like truck costs and even personal protective equipment. During the pandemic, misclassification has left drivers without a safety net and vulnerable to illness and economic calamity. 

WHO: 

  • Senator Lena Gonzalez  
  • Senator María Elena Durazo
  • Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo
  • Ron Herrera, Director, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Port Division
  • Juan Carlos Giraldo, port truck driver for ULH/Container Connection

WHAT: Press conference rolling out legislative package to protect port truck drivers, hold trucking companies accountable

WHEN: Monday, April 5, 2021 at 11:30am

WHERE: Capitol North Steps, Sacramento // Livestream available HERE

After the press conference, the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee will hold a hearing on SB 338, a key component of the legislative package that would hold accountable shippers and retailers when they contract with companies that misclassify workers or violate basic health and safety laws. 

Specifically, the bills in the legislative package would: 

  • SB 338 (Gonzalez): Identify repeat offenders who continually violate labor, employment, and health and safety laws to put retailers on notice, as well as make it easier to hold retailers or shippers accountable when they contract with trucking companies that misclassify workers, deny workers health and safety protections, or otherwise violate employment laws. SB 338 builds upon SB 1402 (Lara – 2018) to protect drivers, incentivize contracts with companies that follow the law, and ensure that both the state and individuals are able to recover back wages and taxes.
  • AB 794 (Carrillo): Require that California Air Resources Board (CARB) grants, incentives and rebates for purchasing clean fleet and electric vehicles are tied to workforce and compliance standards, which will ensure both that climate goals are reached and that the state does not subsidize companies that violate workers’ rights and cheat the state out of tax dollars.
  • SB 700 (Durazo): Help misclassified drivers access critical Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits and protect them from facing unfair liability by clarifying that trucking companies that misclassify drivers are responsible for payroll taxes. 

Trucking Industry Rife With Misclassification, Labor Violations

This year alone, trucking companies operating at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have come under increased scrutiny for their long history of worker misclassification and health and safety violations. 

Last month, drivers filed a Cal/OSHA complaint against Universal Logistics Holdings (ULH) subsidiary Container Connection, alleging a long list of COVID-19 hazards present throughout the course of the drivers’ day-to-day work, during which they pick up shipping containers at the Port and transport them to warehouses. At virtually every point along the way, the complaint alleges, ULH/Container Connection fails to implement procedures to keep drivers safe from COVID-19. The complaint details numerous instances of lack of proper mask-wearing, lack of social distancing, failure to sanitize shared equipment and failure to notify workers about potential COVID-19 exposure.

And in a landmark victory for the rights of port truck drivers in Los Angeles and Long Beach, the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint last month against ULH- affiliated business enterprises Universal Intermodal Services, Southern Counties Express, Roadrunner Intermodal Services and Universal Truckload. The complaint alleges over 20 violations of federal labor law, including that Universal Intermodal Services violated the law by terminating its workforce of unionized drivers shortly following their union election victory in December 2019. 

Over the past few years, courts and state agencies have resoundingly found drivers to be employees, including in almost 500 Labor Commissioner decisions resulting in over $60 million owed in unpaid wages and damages. 

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