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Two CA Port Truck Drivers Unlawfully Fired – One Savagely Beaten!

PRESS ADVISORY FOR: Monday, Sept. 10, 2018

PRESS CONTACT: Barb Maynard

Two CA Port Truck Drivers Unlawfully Fired – One Savagely Beaten! – by Company That Hauls Imports for Herbalife Nutrition and Kimberly-Clark After Independently Demanding To Be Paid for Every Hour Worked

Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, CA – At a leading drayage companies serving America’s largest port complex, two immigrant drivers employed by Pacific Green Trucking were retaliated against and fired after they independently dared to stand up to the boss for wage theft, including being forced to work off the clock. (Note: Pacific Green employs company drivers; these are not misclassified independent contractors.)

  • On August 2, driver Joel Mejia was summarily terminated, brutally beaten, threatened with death, and physically dragged out of the office, in retaliation for complaining that his employer Pacific Green Trucking (PGT) was stealing from him in violation of state labor laws by, for example, illegally deducting five hours of pay every five-day workweek. Mr. Mejia, who sustained a broken facial bone, several hematomas to his scalp and legs, and neck and back injuries in the beating, has filed a lawsuit against the company and the individuals – the company’s co-owner and the director of operations – who viciously assaulted him. Click here for a copy of the lawsuit, which details the incident and his injuries. Click here to watch Mr. Mejia’s story on Univision.
  • On August 24, Ricardo Bonilla Colindres was fired by PGT for exercising his legal right to unite with his co-workers by organizing a union at the company. He has filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board for unlawful discharge due to concerted activity and union support. Click the following hyperlinks for a copy of the NLRB Charge and Transmittal Letter.

All I did was ask for the money I had been promised, and to be paid for every hour worked. What happened to me should never happen to anyone. I want justice for what happened to me. I want to serve as an example of the type of abuse that’s happening on the ports. I don’t want this to ever happen again to someone else,” said Joel Mejia.

The U.S.-based supply chain serving America’s big importers – big box retailers, consumer product manufacturers, and packaged food distributors to name a few – is rife with exploitation and illegal employment practices. No place is this more prevalent than at our nation’s seaports, where short haul truck drivers hauling containerized cargo on and off the docks are routinely called “sharecroppers on wheels” due to misclassification as independent contractors. In California, where the drivers are mostly Latino immigrants, the wage theft can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year per driver, resulting in a series of strikes and job actions that have significantly disrupted the flow of cargo over the last five years.

As misclassified drivers have bravely taken their fight for justice to the streets and to the courts, employee drivers, like those at Pacific Green Trucking, serving America’s largest port complex are stepping out of the shadows to demand an end to a different type of wage theft – being forced by predatory company owners to routinely work off the clock to increase company profits.

“The widespread exploitation of the largely immigrant workforce, and the pervasive wage theft and immoral lawlessness defining the port trucking industry, must end. Pacific Green Trucking engaged in the most egregious of conduct, not only terminating my client, Joel Mejia, for complaining about stolen wages, but abusively beating, kicking, and threatening to kill him and his family, all in brutal retaliation against an employee who dared to stand up for himself,” said Julie Gutman Dickinson, counsel to Mr. Mejia. “The Company’s violent termination of this courageous immigrant worker violated the fundamental public policy in the state of California that employees must be free from retaliation for exercising their right to make complaints about wage theft. The Company is violating the law with impunity, and we will not rest until we bring Pacific Green Trucking to justice.“

“The courage of men like Joel Mejia, who stood up for his right to be paid for every hour worked, and Ricardo Bonilla Colindres, who sought to unite with his co-workers as Teamsters, must not be in vain,” said Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 848. “The ports must hold law-breaking trucking companies accountable, and importers –companies like Herbalife and Kimberly-Clark that contract with Pacific Green Trucking – can no longer turn a blind eye to the dirty secrets in their U.S. supply chain. It is past time for the ports and the retailers to take responsibility for the abusive working conditions and exploitation at America’s largest port complex.”

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Justice for Port Drivers: With the dedicated support from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, plus many other labor, community, and faith allies, we are fighting to change the port trucking industry so we can win justice for ourselves and our families. More than 75,000 strong, we 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.