Port Teamsters Protest at Long Beach City Hall

23 Jun

 

More than 150 people, mostly port drivers and warehouse workers from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, with their allies, on Tuesday, June 20, marched in downtown Long Beach from Promenade Square, at 1st and the Promenade, to City Hall to demand the end of wage theft and that workers be considered employees and not contractors for whom they work at the two ports.

The day before the Teamsters union called a one week strike at both ports for the port drivers and the warehouse workers the union is organizing.

A Cal Cartage warehouse worker estimated about 60 of coworkers were on strike at his workplace.

Jeff Farmer, who was identified as the director of organizing for the International, said “We’re dealing with many, many companies here in the port of L.A., Long Beach.  One of the companies in a sense is a kind of the poster child for we view as U.S. corporate greed is XPO Logistics….They are also in the freight industry and warehouse industry…Their scope is worldwide…We are attempting to do is right a serious wrong…That serious wrong is essentially the misclassification of drivers, where companies claim they are independent contractors…The reality is they are not independent.  They are in fact employees.  Every (governmental) agency that has looked at this issue has come to the same conclusion.”

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Marchers, Tuesday, June 20, posing for photo; Photo by Barry Saks

Farmer added XPO Logistics had lost a law suit filed by four drivers for misclassification.  The drivers were awarded $855,000.

Ernesto Rocha, an organizer for the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy, led a short rally at Promenade Square, in English and Spanish.  The marchers weaved through downtown to City Hall.  In City Hall, they went up to the 14th floor, delivered a petition to a member of the mayor’s staff.

After delivery of the petition, a rally outside was held in Spanish and English, where supporters expressed their solidarity and union officials and workers expressed their determination to win.

One worker who spoke was Dwayne Wilson, 24.  Wilson, who lives in Long Beach, told the audience how at Cal Cartage the warehouse workers must pay for basic equipment, like steel-toed boots, back braces and rain vests.

Besides union members and their supporters speaking, First District Councilwoman Lena Gonzalez spoke.  She told the crowd her father is a retired teamster and that it was time to end wage theft.

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2nd District Councilwoman Jeanine Pearce speaking at the rally, Tuesday, June 20, outside of Long Beach City Hall.  In background is Vice Mayor and Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson who is about to speak and to his right is 1st District Lena Gonzalez who had spoken; Photo by Barry Saks

Besides Gonzalez speaking, Second District Councilwoman Jeanine Pearce, Eighth District Councilman Al Austin, and Vice Mayor and Ninth District Councilman Rex Richardson also spoke.  Richardson told the crowd when he got out of college he was a strike organizer for the California Faculty Association.

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Part of a contingent of fast food workers show their solidarity by marching with the port workers.  Jose Paz (second on the right) spoke briefly at the march; Photo by Barry Saks

 

 

 

 

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