Port Driver Released After Speaking About Work Conditions
The well-publicized controversy in the Los Angeles and Long Beach areas have truckers and carriers in the public spotlight.
All eyes are on the labor dispute, where a number of drivers claimed they’d been taken advantage of and pulled into a work arrangement described by many as indentured servitude. Even retailers have come under fire for purportedly reaping the benefits of the arrangement.
The situation has taken another turn that will have many labor-rights advocates concerned. One trucker in the area was fired after discussing the specifics of his working conditions.
Rene Flores had a lot to say about his time with Morgan Southern, where he claimed he hauled shipping containers between Long Beach and Phoenix – for up to 20 hours straight.
While his long trips violated federal laws for commercial truckers and hours of service, the driver says he kept a fake logbook in his truck to cover his tracks from regulators.
At first glance, many would question why the driver simply didn’t quit if he felt his work arrangement was overwhelming or dangerous. This is where a great deal of the controversy surrounding the port-area issues comes from. The driver claims he was paid very little. Combine this with the high cost the company charged him for the leased truck, and the driver said he simply had no choice.
The driver claimed management consistently overlooked his hours willingly, being aware of it but never taking action to correct the issue.
The day after the 36-year-old father of two spoke publicly about the conditions, he was terminated. The $30,000 balance on his truck was one Flores couldn’t cover. This meant the carrier took it, and the driver lost the $60,000 in lease payments he’d made over the past four years.
This is not the first time this has happened. Many drivers in the port controversy claimed they were retaliated against for speaking out over the years. Flores had less than a year on the lease contract when he was fired.
A representative for Morgan Southern’s parent company said the driver’s refusal to use electronic logbooks also contributed to his termination. The representative also denied Flores had driven more than allowed by federal law.