Port Truckers Caravan to State Capitol for Hearings on Bill to End Poverty Wages and Exploitation

April 24, 2018

Senate Bill 1402 would hold major retailers liable when trucking companies fail to pay employees and taxes

SACRAMENTO, CA – Port truckers from Northern and Southern California joined environmental, labor, and community groups at the State Capitol in support of Senate Bill 1402, which Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) introduced to end the rampant exploitation of drivers who haul cargo from California’s ports.

SB 1402 will be heard on Tuesday in Senate Judiciary Committee and Wednesday in Senate Labor and Industrial Relations Committee, pending passage on Tuesday.

More than a decade of court rulings, media stories and independent reports have revealed extensive labor violations in the port trucking industry, which employs an estimated 25,000 drivers.

“Port truckers are some of California’s most exploited workers, delivering for the nation’s top brands but trapped in a cycle they can never escape of poverty wages and dangerously long hours,” said Senator Ricardo Lara. “Senate Bill 1402 asks retailers to use their market power to end the wage theft and abuse of port truckers so they can benefit from the global economy that their labor makes possible. Port truckers deserve dignity in the driver’s seat.”

Senator Lara represents the Port of Long Beach, which with its neighbor Port of Los Angeles is the nation’s largest megaport and handles one-quarter of the nation’s cargo container traffic.

The mayors representing California’s three largest ports -- Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti, and Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf -- joined Senator Lara in support of SB 1402.

“While we have some great trucking companies working at the ports, we need to fix our system to make sure all truckers are treated fairly,” said Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia. “We need to raise standards, and wages, in the industry while increasing efficiency to make sure our ports continue to be engines of growth.”

“The hard work and dedication of truck drivers literally helps drive our regional economy,” said Oakland Mayor Libby Schaaf. “Senator Lara’s legislation SB 1402 will protect their rights and hold exploitive companies accountable, and restore dignity and respect to our state’s port truckers.”

“Truck drivers at our ports do tremendous work to keep goods moving and our economy growing — and they deserve fair wages and good working conditions,” said Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. “Senator Lara’s bill is a good step toward a more just drayage trucking industry across California.”

The California Labor Commissioner’s Office has won in excess of $45 million in judgments for more than 400 drivers. No higher court has overturned any of these awards on appeal.

SB 1402 will order the Labor Commissioner’s Office to create a list of trucking companies who have failed to pay final judgments for wage theft, imposing unlawful expenses on employees, failure to remit payroll taxes or provide worker’s compensation insurance, misclassifying employees as independent contractors and other violations.

SB 1402 allows the Labor Commissioner’s Office or port truckers to seek joint liability for retailers or shippers hiring port trucking companies on this list for future state labor and employment law violations.

An investigation by USA Today found that “port trucking companies in Southern California have spent the past decade forcing drivers to finance their own trucks by taking on debt they could not afford.” The investigation found instances where drivers “end up owing money to their employers – essentially working for free.”

Port drayage drivers are a largely immigrant workforce and particularly vulnerable to labor exploitation.

SB 1402 is sponsored by the Teamsters Public Affairs Council and the California Labor Federation.