Dockworkers stopped servicing trucks owned by Universal Logistics Holdings at a Port of Los Angeles terminal Wednesday in solidarity with truck drivers who went on strike Monday against the company.
Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union joined the action by the Teamsters, who say some drivers were fired after voting to form a union. Phillip Sanfield of the Port of Los Angeles told City News Services that one of the port's seven terminals had “minimal to moderate traffic disruption” by the workers who are “not servicing the trucks that are being targeted by the Teamsters.”
Sanfield could not quantify the cargo impact at the port, but said it was minimal. The same terminal also had about 20-30 picketing Teamster members as of 12:40 p.m. Wednesday, Sanfield said.
“We are assisting the Teamsters with their right to picket and their First Amendment rights, and we respect that, and we're assisting them to do that while making sure to keep the port functioning,” he said.
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The Port of Long Beach could not immediately provide information on potential impacts at its terminals.
“Today is a new day at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Together with working people from across Southern California, we are saying with one voice that the days when port officials and trucking companies could trample on our rights without consequence are over -- for good,” the International Brotherhood of Teamsters said in a statement.
“We showed today that there is power in our union and in our solidarity as working people. We are enormously grateful that our brothers and sisters from the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, the Mobile Workers Alliance, SEIU 721 and ILWU Local 13 joined us today to support port truck drivers on strike to demand their union and their basic rights as employees.”
ULH did not immediately respond to City News Service's request for comment.
Striking truck drivers formed a picket line Monday morning outside ULH's Southern Counties Express trucking yard, at 2880 E. Las Hermanas St. in Compton.
The group is demanding that the trucking companies owned by ULH:
- rehire fired drivers and provide them with back pay;
- respect the drivers' right to form a union;
- bargain in good faith for a collective-bargaining agreement; and
- stop classifying drivers as independent contractors.
According to the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, ULH/Universal Intermodal Services fired drivers who were organizing to form a union in late 2019.
The Teamsters also allege that ULH transferred work from a unionized ULH company to ULH's Southern Counties Express, which the Teamsters allege misclassified drivers in an effort to avoid unionization.
Following the strike Monday morning, the Teamsters said on Twitter, “Throughout the pandemic, hardworking truck drivers have delivered for our communities. Many of them got sick because (ULH) affiliated companies refused to get them the supplies they needed to stay healthy. They must stop exploiting workers.”
On March 15, truck drivers who work for ULH's Container Connection filed a complaint with Cal/OSHA alleging the company failed to protect drivers from the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Teamsters also allege that Container Connection misclassified drivers as independent contractors, denying them sick leave, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, worker compensation and health insurance. Container Connection did not respond to a request for comment.