WHEREAS the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach are among the nation’s most valuable engines of economic growth and are critical to global trade; yet because of misclassification of highly skilled port drivers as “independent contractors” working in an extremely dangerous industry, drivers are forced to toil in sweatshop working conditions for low wages and are denied basic rights and protections such as workers’ compensation, disability insurance, Social Security, minimum wage, and health and safety law protections; and
WHEREAS the industry has fought to avoid taking responsibility for providing and maintaining clean trucks that meet environmental emissions standards, requiring port drivers to shoulder the costs, and as a result, Southern California port drivers continue to be misclassified and their earnings have dropped below minimum wage – sometimes as little as 67 cents per week – because the industry forces drivers to pay expensive truck payments and other operation costs out of pocket and directly deducts these capital costs from drivers’ paychecks; and
WHEREAS the California Labor Commission has ruled in over 500 individual cases brought by drivers at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach that port drivers qualify as employees under existing state and federal law, and that their designation as “independent contractors” therefore violates existing legal statutes; and
WHEREAS the mayors of Los Angeles and Long Beach have announced a Clean Air Action Plan calling for net-zero port emissions by 2035, in keeping with current climate goals, including use of a truck rate structure encouraging the use of near-zero and zero-emissions trucks, with the goal of transitioning to a zero-emissions fleet by 2035, and these laudable goals are neither achievable nor desirable by placing the burden of fleet transition on the backs of port drivers;
THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED that as a matter of public health, safety, and both worker and climate justice, we of The Democratic Alliance for Action demand that all companies doing business at the ports follow federal, state, and local labor, tax and transportation laws, including on the issue of employee classification, and demand that industry, not port drivers, bear the costs of further fleet upgrades to meet climate goals; and
BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that we commit to standing in solidarity with port truck drivers and warehouse workers in achieving these demands as part of the Our People Our Port Coalition and pledge to engage actively in the Coalition’s policy efforts to improve working and environmental conditions at the ports and hold trucking and warehouse companies accountable.