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

More articles by:

David Macaray is a playwright and author. His newest book is How To Win Friends and Avoid Sacred Cows.  He can be reached at dmacaray@gmail.com

November 21, 2017
Gregory Elich
What is Behind the Military Coup in Zimbabwe?
Louisa Willcox
Rising Grizzly Bear Deaths Raise Red Flag About Delisting
David Macaray
My Encounter With Charles Manson
Patrick Cockburn
The Greatest Threats to the Middle East are Jared Kushner and Mohamed bin Salman
James Rothenberg
We All Know the Rich Don’t Need Tax Cuts
Elizabeth Keyes
Let There be a Benign Reason For Someone to be Crawling Through My Window at 3AM!
L. Ali Khan
The Merchant of Weapons
Thomas Knapp
How to Stop a Rogue President From Ordering a Nuclear First Strike
Lee Ballinger
Trump v. Marshawn Lynch
Michael Eisenscher
Donald Trump, Congress, and War with North Korea
Tom H. Hastings
Reckless
Franklin Lamb
Will Lebanon’s Economy Be Crippled?
Linn Washington Jr.
Forced Anthem Adherence Antithetical to Justice
Nicolas J S Davies
Why Do Civilians Become Combatants In Wars Against America?
November 20, 2017
T.J. Coles
Doomsday Scenarios: the UK’s Hair-Raising Admissions About the Prospect of Nuclear War and Accident
Peter Linebaugh
On the 800th Anniversary of the Charter of the Forest
Patrick Bond
Zimbabwe Witnessing an Elite Transition as Economic Meltdown Looms
Sheldon Richman
Assertions, Facts and CNN
Ben Debney
Plebiscites: Why Stop at One?
LV Filson
Yemen’s Collective Starvation: Where Money Can’t Buy Food, Water or Medicine
Thomas Knapp
Impeachment Theater, 2017 Edition
Binoy Kampmark
Trump in Asia
Curtis FJ Doebbler
COP23: Truth Without Consequences?
Louisa Willcox
Obesity in Bears: Vital and Beautiful
Deborah James
E-Commerce and the WTO
Ann Garrison
Burundi Defies the Imperial Criminal Court: an Interview with John Philpot
Robert Koehler
Trapped in ‘a Man’s World’
Stephen Cooper
Wiping the Stain of Capital Punishment Clean
Weekend Edition
November 17, 2017
Friday - Sunday
Paul Street
Thank an Anti-War Veteran
Andrew Levine
What’s Wrong With Bible Thumpers Nowadays?
Jeffrey St. Clair - Alexander Cockburn
The CIA’s House of Horrors: the Abominable Dr. Gottlieb
Wendy Wolfson – Ken Levy
Why We Need to Take Animal Cruelty Much More Seriously
Mike Whitney
Brennan and Clapper: Elder Statesmen or Serial Fabricators?
David Rosen
Of Sex Abusers and Sex Offenders
Ryan LaMothe
A Christian Nation?
Dave Lindorff
Trump’s Finger on the Button: Why No President Should Have the Authority to Launch Nuclear Weapons
W. T. Whitney
A Bizarre US Pretext for Military Intrusion in South America
Deepak Tripathi
Sex, Lies and Incompetence: Britain’s Ruling Establishment in Crisis 
Howard Lisnoff
Who You’re Likely to Meet (and Not Meet) on a College Campus Today
Roy Morrison
Trump’s Excellent Asian Adventure
John W. Whitehead
Financial Tyranny
Ted Rall
How Society Makes Victimhood a No-Win Proposition
Jim Goodman
Stop Pretending the Estate Tax has Anything to do With Family Farmers
Thomas Klikauer
The Populism of Germany’s New Nazis
Murray Dobbin
Is Trudeau Ready for a Middle East war?
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail