Pacific 9 Port Drivers to Be Compensated With Back Pay of Nearly $7 Million
The State Labor Commissioner’s Office passed a major ruling on Tuesday, in favor of 38 drivers, when a port trucking company in Carson was ordered to back pay an amount of nearly $7 million to the drivers, who were aided by the Teamsters union. The ruling becomes the latest in a series of wins for the labor organizers who are representing nearly 12,000 drivers who work at the local ports. The union is making trucking companies treat drivers as employees using the employee classification claim.
Earlier this month, the office ruled that drivers at Pacific 9 Transportation were unjustly treated as independent contractors rather than as employees. It ruled that the paycheck deductions were illegal and ordered for its immediate compensation along with legal costs and back wages.
State Labor regulators usually handle such conflicts between port truck drivers and trucking companies individually or in small groups. However in recent instances, ruling has been made in favor of large groups of truck drivers all at once.
Robert Milman, a legal analyst, says, “This is not an everyday kind of decision. It is apparent that the Teamsters have glommed onto this issue as an organizing tool.”
The ruling may provide impetus to such claims against other trucking firms as well. Labor organizers believe that there are some companies in Los Angeles who say that the drivers are independent contractors. According to Labor Commissioner Julie Su, there have been three instances since July this year when the rulings of such cases were made, affecting more than 100 drivers.
She also said that 720 drivers have lodged complaints with the office. “In this industry, we have found misclassification routinely in the cases we’ve heard,” she added.
A representative of the drivers in the Pacific 9 and the Teamsters union, Julie Gutman Dickinson, says, “There are hundreds of trucking companies at the ports, and the vast majority are misclassifying drivers.”
Uber is also facing a similar class-action lawsuit from drivers who want to be recognized as employees.
A strong backlash has been shown by the trucking companies against the ruling, claiming that most of the decisions go in favor of the drivers, which shows impartiality. Trade group Harbor Trucking Association has especially taken the ruling with utmost surprise and disbelief. It believes that such decisions are proving to be a hindrance in revolutionizing the trucking industry.
The association issued a statement saying, “This means the labor commissioner is driving drivers into employee status, which means loss of freedom and control over working hours, schedule, whether to work or not, and assets and equity such as a $100,000 truck and lucrative contractual relationships with trucking companies.”
For all payouts, including work-related expenses, rest, and meal breaks, the commission ordered Pacific 9 to pay the amount with interest charged from when the payments were due. This way, each driver is set to receive an average amount of $187,000.
Pacific 9 is allowed to appeal against the commission’s order along with posting a bond for the full back pay amount. – See more at: http://truckernews.com/pacific-port-drivers-to-be-compensated-with-back-pay-of-nearly-million-p592-90.htm#sthash.p6HsTCco.dpuf