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Truckers strike Long Beach, Los Angeles, ports over mistreatment

Los Angeles independent contractors are self-employed. Benefits regular employees receive, like health insurance and workers' compensation, aren't available through employers for contractors, who are supposed to control when and how they work. Some employers try to save money by treating contract workers like regular employees, without providing contractors with the same benefits.

Employee misclassification is one complaint striking California commercial truck drivers have made against three West Coast transportation companies. The truckers conducted three earlier strikes, none lasting longer than two days. The current strike, supported by the Teamsters union, is open-ended - drivers don't plan to stop striking until the firms make changes.

TTSI, Pacific 9 Transportation and Green Fleet Systems are the targets of protests by over 120 truck drivers at ports in Long Beach and Los Angeles. The ports are the collective hubs for about 40 percent of all goods imported by the U.S. Striking contractors said, beyond misclassification, they've been victims of wrongful termination and intimidation for blowing the whistle on employer violations.

The truck drivers aren't the only one claiming Green Fleet broke the rules. A complaint was filed last month against the transportation firm by the National Labor Relations Board, alleging some of the same worker mistreatment the truckers claimed. The striking drivers want to be reclassified as employees, in part, so they can unionize.

According to a report issued by a group of employee rights advocates, misclassification is rampant among port truck employers. The report claims about 65 percent of all U.S. port truck drivers are misclassified. The estimated cost to the workers tops $1 billion. State and federal laws provide whistleblower protection for California workers. Whistleblowers are employees who report unethical or illegal employer activities. Laws forbid employers from retaliating against workers who file complaints. However, employment laws are complex. Legal protections do not apply across the board. An attorney can explain how employment rules apply to your case.

Source: Source: msnbc.com, "Exclusive: California truck drivers go on strike," Ned Resnikoff, July 7, 2014  

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