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Drivers, Warehouse Workers To Picket Ports Of Long Beach And Los Angeles

Claiming wage theft and other labor abuses, Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach truck drivers and warehouse workers are staging a three-day strike at the ports and other areas in Greater Los Angeles and the Inland Empire starting Monday.

The local Teamsters unions are targeting XPO Logistics and NFI Industries for what union officials say are the industrial giants' misclassification of drivers as independent contractors.

Port of Long Beach and Port of Los Angeles warehouse workers and truck drivers are planning to hold a three-day strike against XPO Logistics and NFI Industries.

“Port drivers and warehouse workers at the gateway of the U.S. supply chain will carry out a series of escalating strikes and actions to build worker power and expose a crooked industry that has been built on exploitation, wage theft, and discrimination,” Justice for Port Drivers spokeswoman Barb Maynard wrote in an emailed statement to Bisnow. Justice for Port Drivers is an arm of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

"Port drivers and warehouse workers will not recede into the shadows and accept the rampant abuse and illegal working conditions they have endured and contested for decades," she wrote.

It is the Teamsters unions' 16th strike against the companies in the past five years, Maynard said.

The strikers plan to picket the ports along with XPO and NFI's industrial warehouses and retail clients across Los Angeles. Union officials hope Toyota and Amazon will support the strike in an attempt to put pressure on the industrial companies. 

"The Teamsters are looking to force representation on this hard-working group of men and women who want to continue to be their own bosses and run their own small businesses," an NFI spokeswoman wrote in an emailed statement to Bisnow. "We respect their desire to operate as independent business people and not as employees of our companies or the hundreds of other trucking companies that are currently looking to hire employee drivers. 

"The Teamsters are not concerned about the wellbeing of these independent contractors but rather want them to be classified as employees for one reason only: it's the only way the Teamsters can attempt to organize them.”

XPO has not replied to Bisnow about the strike.

The strike comes several months after the union representing the truck drivers filed a lawsuit in Los Angeles seeking class-action status against XPO to have the independently contracted truckers be reclassified as employees. 

According to the lawsuit, workers claim the company withheld jobs, delayed shipments and wage theft. Union officials said these drivers carry on the work as employees but are underpaid and ripe for other labor abuse. 

With billions of dollars of goods each day, the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles are among the busiest ports in the nation.

About 5,000 people work at the ports with about 25,000 daily truck trips, according to Port of Long Beach spokesman Lee Peterson.

“We have been in contact with the Teamsters union,” Peterson said. "They have done this action before. It is their right to protest and picket."