More Retailers Show Support for Port Truckers
All things considered, the port area in California should be a great place for truckers to find work. The problem is that many of them find work arrangements that are unfair and exploitative.
When it was revealed that truck drivers in the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas were being turned into modern-day indentured servants by freight companies, there was outrage from multiple sources. Both the trucking industry and various regulatory groups spoke out against the situation.
Unfortunately, condemnation alone was not enough to reverse the shady practices. While a large portion of America’s freight arrives through the ports, there aren’t always enough drivers employed in the area to move these goods to their destination.
This is where owner-operators come in. Independent drivers usually have an easier time finding work in these areas than they do in others. But due to misclassification and unfair agreements, drivers have seen their opportunities become burdens and their work arrangement become a trap of sorts.
Drivers who are given the duties of regular employees while still being classified as independent drivers often end up covering many of their own costs. With carriers tricking some drivers into costly lease-to-own schemes, drivers have found themselves working for twelve hours a day or more in some cases. In addition, some drivers claim they barely broke even on some days and often came home with less than a dollar for their efforts.
The prospect of cheap labor is too much for some companies to resist, but the dependence retailers have on these unfair arrangements was criticized heavily when the port protests first gained national attention.
Costco is the latest company to halt business with a trucking company in the area due to their practices. Other companies like Walmart and Hewlett Packard have put companies on notice and even sent investigators in to survey the situation.
The demand for cheap labor is what leads port companies to pursue these arrangements to begin with. By taking a stand against the issue, retailers can pull the rug out from under the entire operation.
As more big clients back out due to concerns about the ethical nature of hiring practices, it is more likely a change will occur. Protests help, but hitting the companies’ bottom lines is a much more effective strategy.