WILMINGTON, Calif. — Port truck drivers employed by NFI Industries’ California Cartage Express subsidiary began a weeklong strike Sept. 9 to protest discrimination against workers fighting to establish a union at the company. NFI bosses claim the drivers are not workers but “independent contractors.”
Striking workers have the support of the Teamsters Port Division and Teamsters Local 848 and set up picket lines at the Port of Los Angeles, in Wilmington and at the Rio Tinto Mine in Boron.
“Instead of giving us six-month contracts like usual, those of us supporting the union are receiving one-month contracts,” Jose Antonio Garcia, told the Militant on the picket line here Sept. 11. Garcia has been a truck driver for 14 years and works for NFI/Cal Cartage Express.
“We have no medical, unemployment or other benefits, no vacations. We pay for costs like tags, tires, repairs,” Garcia added. The big majority of the hundreds of trucking companies in Los Angeles and Long Beach classify the drivers they hire as contractors so that they can pay them by the load and not the hour and force them to finance their own trucks by taking on debts they cannot afford.
“We are on strike because we are misclassified,” Jesus Maldonado, a driver for 12 years who works at NFI/Cal Cartage, told the Militant. “We need to organize and fight. Prices go up and wages stay the same.”