Several Los Angeles area truckers have filed state wage theft claims, seeking an average of $153,150 per driver. CCJ reports that the seven truckers were paid as independent contractors, but they claim that they were treated as employees. The drivers allegedly did not receive payment for certain pay periods and sometimes owed money to the trucking company.
The allegations are against California Multimodel, owned by California Cartage. The truckers filed the case with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement. According to CCJ, this case is similar to 27 other pending cases.
To address the issue, two Democrats have introduced federal bills to revamp working conditions, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Rep. Grace Napolitano (D-Norwalk) introduced the first bill, called The Port Drivers Bill of Rights Act, which proposes a federal task force to handle trucking lease terms and to ensure that truckers make a living wage, according to the Los Angeles Times. Rep. Jerrold Nadler (D-NY) introduced the second bill, called The Clean Ports Act, which would give ports the authority to set regulations that are “reasonably related to the reduction of environmental pollution, traffic congestion, the improvement of highway safety, or the efficient utilization of port facilities.” According to CCJ, the bills each have eight co-sponsors.
Allegations like this can be damaging to such widespread, lucrative industries. According to the U.S. Department of Transportation, the value of freight moved is estimated to increase to $882 per ton in 2007 to $1,377 per ton in 2040. And as this industry grows, it will need truckers and other transportation professionals.
The Los Angeles Times reports that this is not the first time that organizations have taken such action. In 2008, the Port of Los Angeles tried to create leasing regulations as part of the Clean Trucks Program, that would ease the financial burden of truckers purchasing newer green technology. This was denied in federal court, but there have been other labor successes. In 2011, for example, the state Labor Commissioner’s office leaned in favor of misclassified truck drivers. These cases added up to $46 million.