Retailers Under Fire for Enabling Port Trucking Situation
The Los Angeles and Long Beach areas would seem like a great spot for truckers at first glance. Since so much freight comes through the ports, the area is a popular spot for commercial truck drivers who are looking for extra work. However, sometimes they end up getting into a situation they never could’ve anticipated.
It’s been well-documented about the ongoing situation in the area concerning workers who claim they’ve been turned into indentured servants. Due to misclassification as independent contractors rather than employees coupled with lease-to-own costs, many drivers find themselves working twelve hour days for a few dollars tops, all while trying to manage the soaring monthly costs of their equipment.
There have even been instances of drivers being let go for speaking out against the conditions, with one situation even seeing a carrier keep a dismissed employee’s truck after he was unable to finish paying it off.
While the carriers themselves are catching criticism from the public over the situation, another group is also feeling the pressure – retailers. Many of the affected drivers have accused major U.S. retail giants of enabling the situation by using the cheap labor created through the port controversy.
Now the retailers have also caught the attention of regulators, who are encouraging them to stop using this labor in an effort to discourage the practice entirely. Companies may have to look for new options in the future to avoid becoming dependent on labor that is, by all accounts, a violation of the rights of those performing the work.
One solution may involve creating some type of data base, and blacklisting those retailers that consistently take advantage of the situation port truckers find themselves in. Programs could also be developed to award carriers that provide ethical working conditions, or to reward companies that hire truckers who are signed to fair working agreements.
The bottom line is important for retailers, but one person’s reward can be another’s burden. While retailers have been profiting from the cheap labor of port truckers, these drivers’ situation has gained national media attention for a reason. Hopefully retailers, labor groups, and the truckers themselves can work together to create a solution.