HomeUSA NewsClogged California Ports Face New Labor Threat From Trucking | gadgetfee

Clogged California Ports Face New Labor Threat From Trucking | gadgetfee

By Carlos Barria and Lisa Baertlein

OAKLAND (Reuters) -Truck drivers choked visitors on the Oakland, California, seaport on Monday protesting a state regulation that makes it tougher for unbiased contractors to move items and will restrict labor on the state’s already clogged seaports, threatening to worsen the nation’s pandemic-fueled provide chain jams.

California’s ports deal with about 40% of container items that enter the US. Trucking disruptions come at a time when unions and West Coast port employers are additionally negotiating a high-stakes labor contract.

The regulation, often called AB5, or the “gig employee” regulation, units harder requirements for classifying employees as unbiased contractors. Unbiased truckers who now function below the authority and insurance coverage of firms that rent them for jobs can be shouldered with the hefty prices and crimson tape of taking that on when the regulation is enacted.

“They wish to eradicate us,” mentioned unbiased driver Douglas Urtado, who joined Monday’s protest the Port of Oakland within the San Francisco Bay Space.

Wayne Feng, carrying a “No on AB5” T-shirt, advised Reuters the regulation can be so financially draining that drivers “aren’t making something.”

Authorized challenges stored AB5 from going into impact in 2020, however the U.S. Supreme Court docket final month denied a California Trucking Affiliation petition claiming the regulation is blocked by federal rules. Consultants say an injunction that put the regulation on maintain may quickly be lifted.

Greater than 100 drivers and small trucking firm operators against the regulation swarmed two terminal gates within the Port of Oakland, slowing truck entry to a trickle. The motion got here after port truckers in Los Angeles picketed gates and snarled roadways on the nation’s busiest seaport complicated final week.

Enterprise proprietor Josue Mendez, 29, mentioned AB5 would devastate his port trucking agency, which depends on 10 unbiased drivers to maneuver all the pieces from medical tools to almonds.

“I can now not rent them” and be in compliance with AB5, mentioned Mendez.

Backers of AB5, which embody the Teamsters union that after dominated trucking, say it’s going to crack down on labor abuses by pushing house owners to rent drivers as workers and supply employees’ compensation insurance coverage and different advantages.

Business teams representing roughly 20,000 Los Angeles and Oakland port truckers, together with the Proprietor-Operator Unbiased Drivers Affiliation, made an unsuccessful bid to persuade California Governor Gavin Newsom to delay enforcement of the regulation.

“Now that the federal courts have rejected the trucking business’s appeals, it is time to transfer ahead,” Dee Dee Myers, director of the Governor’s Workplace of Enterprise and Financial Growth, mentioned in an announcement.

California’s port trucking work practices hint again to the Nineteen Eighties, when the US deregulated trucking. That reworked the enterprise from one dominated by massive, unionized firms to the present mannequin through which most corporations depend on unbiased drivers, lots of whom are current immigrants.

Port driver pay is now one-half to two-thirds lower than what it was earlier than deregulation, in line with an estimate from Wayne State College economics professor Michael Belzer. It’s troublesome to derive correct information on compensation as a result of authorities information, notably on hours labored, is incomplete, he mentioned.

(Reporting by Lisa Baertlein in Los Angeles; Modifying by Leslie Adler and Stephen Coates)

Copyright 2022 Thomson Reuters.

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