Southern California Port Truck Drivers Allege Labor Exploitation

Mar. 17, 2014 / By

Koream Journal, News Report, James S. Kim, Posted: Mar 16, 2014
Chung K. Shin was technically never an employee at the port trucking company where he regularly hauled goods out of the Long Beach and Los Angeles ports for two years. From 2009 and through 2010, Shin drove for QTS Inc. and its related entities, as an “independent contractor,” though he says the company forbade him to drive for anyone else. If he ever turned down a job, the company would retaliate, he says.

“If I did not come when they asked me to, I received bad trucking assignments the next day as retaliation,” Shin, a Korean immigrant, explained through an interpreter. “In reality, the company controlled all of the conditions I worked under.”

A new report released by a national labor rights group suggests that Shin’s case isn’t unusual or limited to just Los Angeles County. The port truck driving industry is rampant with examples of companies employing tactics to exploit drivers, from the aforementioned misclassification as an independent contractor, to depriving drivers of employee benefits, workplace standards and proper wages, according to the National Employment Law Project (NELP).

The group estimates that 49,000 of the 75,000 port truck drivers in the U.S. are misclassified—a practice dubbed by some as “labor laundering”—despite working an average of 59 hours a week and making about $28,783 per year. That’s considerably lower than port truck drivers who are considered actual employees, who average about $35,000 a year.

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