Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! We only shake you down once a year, but when we do we really mean it. It costs a lot to keep the site afloat, and our growing audience, well over TWO million unique viewers a month, eats up a lot of bandwidth — and bandwidth isn’t free. We aren’t supported by corporate donors, advertisers or big foundations. We survive solely on your support.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Truck Drivers Strike for Recognition

by

Beginning Monday, April 28, Southern California truck drivers at the Long Beach and San Pedro ports, will go on a limited 2-day “exhibition” strike to protest what they see as a gross misclassification. Truckers as far away as Savannah, Georgia, are expected to join in the protest.

Needless to say, trucking companies are doing everything in their power to maintain their strangle-hold on these drivers. Classifying them as “independent contractors” rather than “employees,” works wholly in their favor, as it not only gives them near dictatorial powers, but prohibits drivers from seeking union representation.

Conversely, classifying them as “employees” opens up a wide array of choices, one of which is union membership. It doesn’t mean they have to join a union, only that they can. As is so typical of methods used by management to squelch union drives, the companies insist that “most drivers” are happy with the current arrangement, and that it’s the Teamsters who are fomenting trouble, in order to get more union dues.

Of course, when a trucker belongs to a union, it’s a whole new ballgame. No more impossibly long hours, no more abysmally low wages, no more deadhead time. As union members, they’re entitled to negotiate their wages, hours, benefit package, and working conditions—the prospect of which terrifies trucking companies as much as giving African-Americans the right to vote terrified the Deep South.

Being recognized as employees (rather than independents) makes all the difference in the world. That’s why football players at Northwestern University filed their grievance with the NLRB. The only way these athletes will ever have a genuine say in how they are treated is to be recognized as university “employees.” Once that hurdle has been cleared, they are free to carve out their own niche.

With Corporate America getting pretty much anything it wants, outside contractors are very much in vogue. When you hire a contractor (and not an “employee”), you don’t worry about vacation liability, holiday pay, pensions, health care, or training costs. These guys may be “working” on your property, but they are “employed” by someone else. Or in the case of truckers, they’re conveniently classified as “self-employed.”

This contractor issue triggered a memory. Back in my union days, a contractor was fired for urinating in a bathroom sink. Even though our maintenance men resented these guys for coming in and “stealing their work,” the union executive board nonetheless tried to get this guy reinstated. As much as we despised outside contractors, we didn’t think he deserved to lose his job. Simple as that.

Unlike our production workers who adhered to a “tag relief” system (i.e., where workers are relieved on their machines by a designated relief person), these contractors took their breaks at the same time, meaning their jobs were left unattended. Because all work stopped the moment they went on break, they weren’t allowed to take so much as a minute longer than authorized.

On one such occasion, this particular contractor (a kid in his twenties) visited the nearest restroom and found it jam-packed with men. There were two urinals and two stalls, and all four were occupied. Because time was of the essence, he felt he had no choice but to use the sink as a urinal. Any port in a storm, as they say.

Clearly, what he did was wrong. After all, there were men trying to wash their hands in that basin, and here’s this kid with his dick slung over the side, pissing in it. Not something even Quentin Tarantino would want to see. Apparently, a mechanic reported him, and his contracting company, taking the easy way out, ordered him fired.

Our union argued that he should’ve been warned, not fired, and requested a meeting. They refused, telling us this was none of our damned business. They were right, of course; we had no jurisdiction. Alas, the guy who got fired was oblivious, never even knowing that our union had tried to save him.

David Macaray, an LA playwright and author (“It’s Never Been Easy:  Essays on Modern Labor,” 2nd edition), is a former union rep.  He can be reached at dmacaray@earthlink.net

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is “Nightshift: 270 Factory Stories.” He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

September 28, 2016
Eric Draitser
Stop Trump! Stop Clinton!! Stop the Madness (and Let Me Get Off)!
Ted Rall
The Thrilla at Hofstra: How Trump Won the Debate
Robert Fisk
Cliché and Banality at the Debates: Trump and Clinton on the Middle East
Patrick Cockburn
Cracks in the Kingdom: Saudi Arabia Rocked by Financial Strains
Lowell Flanders
Donald Trump, Islamophobia and Immigrants
Shane Burley
Defining the Alt Right and the New American Fascism
Jan Oberg
Ukraine as the Border of NATO Expansion
Ramzy Baroud
Ban Ki-Moon’s Legacy in Palestine: Failure in Words and Deeds
David Swanson
How We Could End the Permanent War State
Sam Husseini
Debate Night’s Biggest Lie Was Told by Lester Holt
Laura Carlsen
Ayotzinapa’s Message to the World: Organize!
Binoy Kampmark
The Triumph of Momentum: Re-Electing Jeremy Corbyn
David Macaray
When the Saints Go Marching In
Seth Oelbaum
All Black Lives Will Never Matter for Clinton and Trump
Adam Parsons
Standing in Solidarity for a Humanity Without Borders
Cesar Chelala
The Trump Bubble
September 27, 2016
Louisa Willcox
The Tribal Fight for Nature: From the Grizzly to the Black Snake of the Dakota Pipeline
Paul Street
The Roots are in the System: Charlotte and Beyond
Jeffrey St. Clair
Idiot Winds at Hofstra: Notes on the Not-So-Great Debate
Mark Harris
Clinton, Trump, and the Death of Idealism
Mike Whitney
Putin Ups the Ante: Ceasefire Sabotage Triggers Major Offensive in Aleppo
Anthony DiMaggio
The Debates as Democratic Façade: Voter “Rationality” in American Elections
Binoy Kampmark
Punishing the Punished: the Torments of Chelsea Manning
Paul Buhle
Why “Snowden” is Important (or How Kafka Foresaw the Juggernaut State)
Jack Rasmus
Hillary’s Ghosts
Brian Cloughley
Billions Down the Afghan Drain
Lawrence Davidson
True Believers and the U.S. Election
Matt Peppe
Taking a Knee: Resisting Enforced Patriotism
James McEnteer
Eugene, Oregon and the Rising Cost of Cool
Norman Pollack
The Great Debate: Proto-Fascism vs. the Real Thing
Michael Winship
The Tracks of John Boehner’s Tears
John Steppling
Fear Level Trump
Lawrence Wittner
Where Is That Wasteful Government Spending?
James Russell
Beyond Debate: Interview Styles of the Rich and Famous
September 26, 2016
Diana Johnstone
The Hillary Clinton Presidency has Already Begun as Lame Ducks Promote Her War
Gary Leupp
Hillary Clinton’s Campaign Against Russia
Dave Lindorff
Parking While Black: When Police Shoot as First Resort
Robert Crawford
The Political Rhetoric of Perpetual War
Howard Lisnoff
The Case of One Homeless Person
Michael Howard
The New York Times Endorses Hillary, Scorns the World
Russell Mokhiber
Wells Fargo and the Library of Congress’ National Book Festival
Chad Nelson
The Crime of Going Vegan: the Latest Attack on Angela Davis
Colin Todhunter
A System of Food Production for Human Need, Not Corporate Greed
Brian Cloughley
The United States Wants to Put Russia in a Corner
Guillermo R. Gil
The Clevenger Effect: Exposing Racism in Pro Sports
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]