Justice for Port Drivers Stands With Northwest Port Truckers Who Refuse to Bear the Cost of New Environmental Regulations
WASHINGTON, DC – For too long port trucking companies, shippers, and retailers have raked in record profits off the back of America’s port drivers, whom the USA Today Network has aptly called “modern day indentured servants.” Treated like employees but illegally paid as “independent contractors,” the drivers’ outdated trucks that are used to haul America’s imports – many with millions of miles on them, which the Los Angeles Times has calculated “are the equivalent of about six round trips to the moon” – spew toxic fumes into local communities.
It’s no surprise that the communities adjacent to the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma have demanded a Clean Truck Program to rid the Puget Sound communities of dirty diesel trucks, and though we applaud The Northwest Seaport Alliance for adopting a Clean Truck Program, we urge them to immediately amend the program to demand that the shippers – the big retailers like Walmart, Target, and Home Depot – pay for the new trucks, not the drivers who have not ability to increase rates to cover the cost of the new regulations.
“We stand with the Puget Sound community, which has demanded clean air, but the truck drivers serving the ports of Seattle and Tacoma should not be forced to choose between good jobs and clean air – we all deserve both. The Northwest ports of Seattle and Tacoma must take responsibility for cleaning up this toxic waste dump. The ports have the power to require the powerful shippers that own the cargo – like Target, Home Depot, and Boeing – to pay drayage rates that cover the cost of purchasing new, clean equipment instead of sticking it to the drivers,” said Fred Potter, Teamsters International Vice President and Director of the Teamsters Port Division.
With the dedicated support from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, plus many other labor, community, and faith allies, Justice for Port Drivers is fighting to change the port trucking industry so drivers and their families can win justice. More than 75,000 strong, America’s port drivers haul our country’s imports and exports for retail companies, for manufacturers, and for the U.S. Military. We are proud to be professional truck drivers and proud of the service we provide. Without us, America would stop. Read more
I am a proud mom to 3 older children. My baby boy is 18 years old and studying to become a nurse at Cerritos College. My 19 year old was born with Cerebral Palsy. My 30 year old is studying to get her Real Estate License.
My youngest 2 live with my stepmom right now. We live humbly, we rent a 1 bedroom back house. It’s super small and we don’t have a kitchen, but luckily I became a master at cooking with crockpots and hot plates when I used to drive long distances over-the-road.
I’ve been working at Shippers Transport Express for nearly 3 years. I’ve been a port driver since 2001, and was an over-the-road driver for a while. I then became homeless for a while due to identity theft. We were living out of hotels, which quickly traps you as it becomes way more expensive than living at home. I started working at a port trucking company that misclassified me as an independent contractor. I was required to lease a new truck from the company under the Clean Truck program. One day, I got into my “clean truck” right after it had just been to maintenance. They had left fiberglass pieces in the air ducts, and the moment the air came on the fiberglass shards blasted into my lungs. I rushed to Saint Mary’s with an asthma attack, but then became allergic to the steroid and had to be admitted to ICU. It quickly derailed. My pancreas failed and I became a full-blown diabetic. No medication could help, but even worse – I had no health insurance, and now also no job.
I owed $3,000 on the lease of my brand new clean truck, but I couldn’t pay it without working, and I wasn’t well enough to return to work. I lost my truck. I lost my car. I lost my home. I couldn’t afford these expenses as well as my medical expenses. Once again, I was homeless. It broke me.
I was still homeless when I started working at Shippers, but thankfully having a stable union job helped pull me out of it. I now finally have fair pay, paid time off, sick leave, and vacation time to enjoy with my family. Shippers even has a fleet of mechanics available to repair anything that could break down on my truck immediately. At my previous company, they made me pay for every repair and maintenance cost!
I soon realized that a union contract was a great equalizer. As a woman of color, I was guaranteed equal pay and treatment to my male counterparts, and had an opportunity to become a leader and help my coworkers. Last summer, I was elected Shop Steward.
Being a Shop Steward isn’t easy. It can be a double edged sword, but I consider myself a unity coordinator. As a woman I can navigate different genders and ethnic group more easily than most men. As a woman of color, I have even more opportunity to unify my coworkers.
I hope to push us all forward in a positive direction, as a unified workforce and supply chain. Without unity, nothing can move forward or change at the ports.