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The Weakest Link

Seattle Truckers Are Getting Screwed in the Global Supply Chain

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George Pfromm III

For four years, Giray Yonas has been working as a short-haul trucker at the Port of Seattle, transporting cargo containers from docked freighters to inland railheads and warehouses.

Every day he lines up with hundreds of his compatriots, their trucks idling in the neighborhoods surrounding the docks, waiting for the next job. Like most of the other 2,000 local truckers, Yonas is a first-generation immigrant who started working at the port with the expectation that it would provide a fair, decent living.

Things haven't worked out that way.

"You work to pay the bills, that's it; there is nothing you can [afford to] do after that," says Yonas, who is paid per delivery, not by the hour. He estimates that his total earnings are significantly less than what they would be if his income was subject to Washington's $8.55 per hour minimum wage, which would also include overtime pay after 40 hours. "Every day has become a dark day for us," he says.

It's hard to argue against him on that point. The typical port trucker often wakes before 4:00 a.m., works 12-hour days five days a week, and brings in $400 to $500 at week's end—after expenses. And expenses take up more than half of a driver's net income. Due to the 1980 federal deregulation of the trucking industry, port truckers can be labeled "independent contractors," even though they work for the same trucking firm every day. (Many trucks even bear the company emblem, but their drivers still aren't acknowledged as employees, meaning no hourly wage, no health insurance, no vacation time, and no unemployment benefits.) As for the exact number of independent contractors, no one knows for sure. Some specialty firms, such as refrigerated-trucking firms, employ their drivers, but as far as the Washington division of the Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports (CCSP) can guess, more than 80 percent of the truckers are independent contractors.

This legal technicality allows trucking companies to shift all the costs to the drivers: gas, insurance, maintenance, permits, parking, and road taxes—all taken out of the driver's income.

Meanwhile, everybody else involved makes good off the deal, including us bargain-hunting consumers. According to Heather Weiner, a consultant for CCSP, the shippers negotiate rates with the companies (Wal-Mart, Costco, and Home Depot are big ones). The rate is $350 per container. Not bad for a short trip. Except that the truckers, whose cut hasn't changed in 15 years, only get $40 to $45. The shipper keeps the rest. Wal-Mart and other companies save a bundle by dealing with trucking companies whose prices remain stable (why should the companies up their rates if they don't pay any expenses?), and customers get cheap prices at Wal-Mart. Everyone wins, except the truckers, who get stuck with the bill.

The utter inequity of this arrangement can be explained by the truckers' place in the global supply chain that provides American consumers with foreign foodstuffs, whizbang gadgetry, and Chinese mass-produced toys. International shipping conglomerates that need to get their goods to big-box retail stores, which keep their prices ridiculously low by grossly underpaying everyone who works for them, including the trucking companies, dominate the product-delivery network. The truckers are caught between these behemoths, fragmented by their owner-operator status—in fact, it is illegal for independent contractors to unionize—and slaving for the unscrupulous trucking companies that endlessly cut corners to stay in the game.

The port truckers aren't the only ones getting screwed by this calculus. Because the truckers are entirely responsible for their vehicles, the only trucks they can afford are the oldest, cheapest, dirtiest ones in the fleet. And because their companies won't pay for parking, the truckers idle while waiting for work in the neighborhoods around the port, where their old, fuel-inefficient trucks spew pollutants over the low- and middle-income communities of Georgetown and South Park.

"The harms of diesel pollution are not debated," says Howard Greenwich, research director for Puget Sound Sage, a low-income-community advocacy group. "We know from studies done in Oakland and L.A. that communities around those ports have extremely high rates of asthma, lung cancer, and early death, all directly linked to diesel pollution. And Georgetown and South Park have the highest rates of asthma hospitalization in King County and lower life expectancy." The residents of the two neighborhoods have average life expectancies 2.5 years shorter than the county overall, he says. And while other industrial activity in South Seattle also contributes to poor air quality, the trucks add to pollution in the area.

After years of pressure from community groups, including Puget Sound Sage, the port finally addressed the problem last spring, passing a plan that will ban all trucks made before 1993 from port property starting in 2011. The port is offering to pay $5,000 for outmoded trucks to help drivers buy new, cleaner vehicles. The offer may seem thoughtful, but it's actually kind of dickish. New trucks cost $100,000 or more, and low-income drivers generally lack sterling credit ratings. According to Sage, 400 truckers are expected to lose their jobs under the plan.

Critics say the port is shirking its responsibility by forcing impoverished truckers to pick up its slack. "The port put forward a solution that will make people who can't afford it pay for the environmental upkeep," says Brady Montz, chair of Seattle's Sierra Club. "That isn't sustainable. We need a long-term solution, where we aren't just cleaning up the trucks this year, but next year and the year after that, where we consistently increase the quality of the equipment. You need to have centralized control and responsibility to achieve that."

An alternative to the port's plan is being promoted by the national CCSP, an organization composed of groups like the Sierra Club, the Teamsters, and a host of other progressive organizations. The Los Angeles Harbor Commission enacted a clean-truck program last year that requires 80 percent of the drivers to be hired as full-fledged employees by port trucking companies. The plan also made companies responsible for ensuring that their trucking fleets remain environmentally friendly. The program was an unequivocal success, replacing 2,000 high-emission trucks with cleaner rigs and reducing diesel pollutants by almost 80 percent. New trucking firms even invested heavily in entirely new trucks for their drivers.

But any plan that attempts to shift costs up the ladder is almost certain to provoke a backlash from business lobbyists. In L.A., the American Trucking Association (ATA) filed an injunction, which argued that those pesky 1980 deregulation laws prevent ports, or any other local political power, from requiring trucking firms to do much of anything. The case goes to trial next year in a federal district court, where a judge will rule on the legality of the plan. Whichever side wins, the other plans to appeal, resulting in a battle that could drag on for years. In short, the feds broke the port trucking system, and they'll have to fix it. Congressional legislation is currently being hashed out in Washington, D.C., and could be introduced before summer.

In the meantime, the injunction against the L.A. clean-truck program has effectively stopped Seattle, and every other port in the country, from attempting to fix its own port trucking problems. But if by some minor miracle, Congress can pass a bill to close the ATA's legislative loophole, Seattle will be in a good position to move forward. One of the newly elected port commissioners, Rob Holland, supports a clean-trucks program that would ensure "burdens don't fall on the truck drivers." Before the election, he even told the King County Labor Council that he would attempt to bypass the current legal snafu by "looking at alternative avenues to ensure that such a program is implemented." There probably aren't any, but it's good to know where his heart lies.

Until Congress acts or Holland's alternative proposal goes somewhere, Seattle's port truckers will continue to suffer.

Yonas, for one, isn't sure things will ever change.

"Where I'm from, you can't ask for your rights," Yonas says. "This is supposed to be America, but here, it's the same thing. We aren't trying to be rich, we're not here to upset the company; we just want to get a fair start. Instead, we get hurt." recommended

 

Comments (34) RSS

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1
If it's really such a horrible deal to be a port trucker, why are so many people lining up to do it? I'm pretty sure that the port isn't recruiting these people at gunpoint.
Posted by Sean P. on December 23, 2009 at 11:53 AM · Report this
2
Where's the full disclosure? Brother Jake is shill for the Teamsters. What a load of propaganda.
Posted by I'm tired of this crap. Boycott the advertisers. on December 23, 2009 at 12:35 PM · Report this
3
@1 The study of economics describes these situations in terms of options. If not port trucking, then what? Just because the answer isn't a merger with a bullet, does not mean that port trucking is good, just that the other known alternatives are perceived to be worse. I hear "stay unemployed and go bankrupt while your family starves" isn't quite as fun as struggle to eke out a living.
Posted by Can't pull on your bootstraps when you have no boots on December 23, 2009 at 12:38 PM · Report this
Fnarf 4
Meanwhile the port commissioners get paid handsomely to fly first class all over the world to do "research" in fancy hotel bars, on the taxpayer's dime. Is the Port of Seattle the most corrupt, ineptly run organization in the state? I think so.
Posted by Fnarf http://www.facebook.com/fnarf on December 23, 2009 at 1:19 PM · Report this
wisepunk 5
@4 Did you see the yelling going on the WSBlog when they were blocking the lower bridge? The truckers were parking there in both directions at 6am, even though the port police were parked outside my window every day, trying to pull over speeders on Alki. It took weeks to get the port police out there to ensure that the trucks didn't turn west Seattle into a parking lot. Nothing like waiting 45 minutes to get over the bridge for work. I work in Georgetown! This morning, it took 4 minutes.

The port's idea is to collect taxes from the citizens to ensure that the commission and Big Biz can enjoy a better life.
Posted by wisepunk on December 23, 2009 at 2:29 PM · Report this
6
@3 Given that these people own trucks, it is hard to believe that port trucking is a job of last resort (and, furthermore, if they are really getting paid so badly, they should just give up trucking and start flipping burgers or something).
Posted by Sean P. on December 23, 2009 at 5:03 PM · Report this
Vampireseal 7
The legal technicality of "independent contractor" goes on in other jobs as well. For a few years, I worked with my mother delivering newspapers as an "independent contractor" because there was literally no other legal job available (this was in the rural South). We made far less than minimum wage, and had to use our own cars and were never compensated for gas, wear and tear, etc. It was a job that destroyed cars in just under 2 years (we delivered to far flung residences on dirt and grave roads in the country).

The worst part of it? You had no say in how you ran your "independent" business. None whatsoever. You could not raise the price of your newspaper, you could not cancel nonpaying customers for 3 months and 1/4 of all new customers never paid a dime.

In a few short years, the job had degenerated into an outright scam. I'm shocked they still got workers, but with so few jobs in the area, many families felt they had no choice--either a scam job or no job.

I'm not sure why these port workers continue to work these "independent" cargo jobs when Seattle does have an abundance of other actual minimum wage jobs,unless they lack some legal documents. Many of these kinds of jobs never look into backgrounds, nor do they care to. Which is good for some, bad for others.

The reason some people I knew did the newspaper jobs was exactly because the newspaper companies refused to look into backgrounds. The local delivery for my living area was a teenager who had already had 2 DUIs. So long as you showed up every day, that was all the business cared about.

Still, it would be great if independent contractors were allowed to unionize. They are one of the few groups of workers that truly need it. To many businesses abuse the concept of independent contractor, by essentially making them employees without benefits and few, if any, rights.
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Posted by Vampireseal on December 23, 2009 at 5:49 PM · Report this
8
@3 Given that these people own trucks, it is hard to believe that port trucking is a job of last resort (and, furthermore, if they are really getting paid so badly, they should just give up trucking and start flipping burgers or something).

Have you priced a used truck? $10,000 will get you a usable one, albeit with high mileage that needs constant repairs (with the associated downtime) and uses more fuel, and therefore is much more expensive to operate.

Why would someone do this? How many people can clear $400-$500 a week anymore? Especially if you're a recent immigrant or lacking a college degree?
Posted by xxxSTEVExxx on December 23, 2009 at 6:20 PM · Report this
9
When you look at wages in a macroeconomic context, what SHOULD happen is people STOP taking jobs as truckers at the port because it pays so poorly. Then the employer will have to offer more money to the truckers in order to convince people to work for them.

Unfortunately, because unemployment is so high, there aren't other options for these people. Sure, the port is evil and the rules should place these truckers as full-time employees, but normal economic adjustments should get these people a decent wage. As soon as they stop taking this crappy job, it will stop being a crappy job. That's just how economics work.
Posted by oj on December 24, 2009 at 6:44 AM · Report this
10
The author should study economics and understand the way that a real free market system works really good before writting an emotional article about the rich v/s the poor crap. Trucks companies are going down just like any other small truck owner:
http://www.tulsaworld.com/news/article.a…
Same old Seattle bullshit. Hipersensitivity is not good, real facts are.
Posted by Sick of rich v/s poor crap on December 24, 2009 at 7:31 AM · Report this
11
What are our city council and new mayor doing about this? Georgetown, South Park are absorbing the environmental and societal impacts of the Port's business. You can be sure if this was happening in Magnolia or Madison Park, the city would be in negotiations with the Port to clean up the Port's trucking. And, if the drivers were mostly white you can be sure no one would be telling them to "get another job" cleaning someone's piss in a public bathroom.
Posted by Leaward on December 24, 2009 at 8:59 AM · Report this
12
If minimum wage is better, here's a bold idea: get a different job.
Posted by Nobel Prize Winner In Ideas on December 24, 2009 at 10:12 AM · Report this
13
People who say get another job have clearly never faced poverty or worked their whole lives to get out of war-torn countries like Somalia and Sudan, where many of these drivers are from.

Plus I hear it's not so easy to get another job when you've put your family's savings into that old, polluting truck.

The situation is the same at Ports around the country: Here's a link to last week's NPR piece from Southern California.
http://www.scpr.org/news/2009/12/24/truc…

Posted by Leaward on December 24, 2009 at 10:34 AM · Report this
14
Thanks for this article, I wish there were more like it! To the other commenter who suggested that it isn't so bad if people are lining up for it obviously have no idea how difficult it is to find decent work these days.
Posted by EricG on December 24, 2009 at 11:29 AM · Report this
15
I suspect most drivers got into the business without a clear view of how the economics works. In many ways, being a driver starts out looking like a viable capital accumulation strategy and, honestly, a few guys probably make it work. That's the bait part, then comes the switch. More fees, more maintenance, more insurances premiums, suddenly those container hauls get scarce while the loan payments continue. That's when they're fucked. But they still have a truck and the loan to go with it. That's why the stay.

And, as Jake notes, we pay the price. Dirty air, emergency room care for the sick and injured (since Basic Health's no longer an option), clogged roads, trucks parked everywhere.

Meanwhile, the shippers, the Port staff and the commissioners reap all the benefits.
Posted by Echo HIll on December 24, 2009 at 11:35 AM · Report this
16
The weak link in the global supply chain isn't local trucking, it's local motorists. It requires much more fuel per unit of product to drive from home to retailer and back. Any disruption to our petroleum supply will result in rationing first of all to motorists. Retailers like Costco and Walmart supercenters encourage motorists to drive the furthest and use the most gasoline.

If truckers delivered to regional distribution warehouses and then local retailers instead of retailers like Walmart, motorists would shorten their driving distance and reduce gasoline/diesel combustion overall, even though trucking distances would be further.
Posted by Wells on December 24, 2009 at 11:49 AM · Report this
17
Why do trucking companies think they don't need to own trucks, maintain the trucks, or employ truck drivers? What a racket - the port needs to make the industry pay.
Posted by Barry Michaels on December 24, 2009 at 12:30 PM · Report this
18
unions are using the "employee" game as a red herring. i work the piers and rail yards as an owner/operator, and the reason that there are long lines at the piers is a complicated issue. longshore and steamship lines are constantly bickering. longshore want to unionize owner ops by calling them employees of the trucking companies they lease their trucks with. if owner ops were unionized, the longshore would have more leverage to shut down the piers and squeeze the steamship lines for more benefits, wages, ect. only thing is, there would be no added benefits for truckers that are helping the longshore with their issues.

trucks are needed to move containers on/off the piers and rails, the longshore see this as their work and want control of it again. the "clean trucks" agenda is a way for them to bring in big trucking firms that can afford to purchase/lease new trucks and hire truck drivers to work these trucks (paying the truckers shit wages in exchange for benefits). the pier to rail work used to have unionized companies to doing this, but that went out the window with deregulation, and opening up the game to competition, giving the brokers the ability to hire who they wanted to move their freight. the teamsters and longshore had a strangle hold on the piers, and they've been grieving about "the good ol'days" ever since.

secondly, the long lines are because the piers are not open enough hours to accommodate the amount to truck traffic that the piers generate throughout the day. the steamship lines are unwilling to pay the longshore for extra hours to keep the piers open, and the longshore are often unwilling to stagger their breaks and lunch hours to keep the trucks moving efficiently through at these times. look at any other grocery store or bank, and you don't see these establishments closing for 20 minutes at 10am and 3pm for coffee breaks, or for and hour and 15 minutes for lunch. during these times trucks are left where they're at till longshoremen choose to return to there jobs. and lord help the truckers if the longshore are staging a "slowdown" to protest some aspect of their contract that they perceive being violated by the shipping companies. of course, the folks squeezed in the middle of these competing interests are the truck drivers everyone sees lining up and blocking traffic. an easy way to alleviate these long lines is to open up the piers early, and stay open later, and not shut down all the operations till the longshore come back from all their breaks. the port refuses to put pressure on the steamship lines to pay for these added costs, and the longshore need to agree to stagger during breaks to keep trucks moving.

as far has truck drivers getting paid crap wages, when the economy is down, we all suffer. as an owner operator, you get paid by the move, not by the hour. the brokers need to get freight moved, and have to hire trucks to do this. during the busy times, they are willing to pay us well for the work required to move these containers, and hire carriers that have efficient turnaround times, clean driving records, and good customer relations. many of these brokerage firms have become greedy, and refuse to pay a fair rate to good carriers because there is always another company that will undercut the rate. there are many unscrupulous carriers that have set up shop doing container work, that hire a lot of trucks, driven by immigrants that are willing to work for less because they think they can run a truck for the money that is being offered. if you moved from a war torn country, making a few bucks a day, getting offered $20 to move a container from the grain elevator across the street to a pier is a lot of money. but when you sit in line for 3 hours to get rid of that can, and pick up an empty can to take back, that $20 doesn't go very far to pay your expenses. so what do you do? you get up early to beat the rush and block the streets so you can get a jump on the other guy who choses to sleep in. and because so many of these trucking companies underbid each other to compete for the work that is brokered through the rail and piers, the brokers get rich on the backs of who? the truckers.

the port could do a lot more to control these issues with the truck traffic, air pollution, longshore and steam ship companies, etc. if they would grow a backbone and start making everyone play nice. first they could start fining the steamship companies when trucks are are backed up on the streets. i can guarantee that there would be no trucks blocking traffic if the steamship lines had to pay these fines. the port should upgrade the piers to have have outlets for the ships to plug into while in port, and fine the ships that don't upgrade to use these services. ships idle their engines at the ports to run basic operations onboard, and one ship pollutes more than all the trucks running in the piers on any given day. the port could offer transit parking for truckers to park containers during heavy traffic hours at the piers, so that trucks wouldn't be forced to sit for hours and hours while waiting for the longshore and steamship companies to get their acts together. then truckers could bring the containers in when the traffic has cleared, and can the work done in a timely fashion. lastly, the port could meet with various carriers and brokerage firms, review the rates that are charged to move containers throughout the system and establish basic rates for the drayage of containers. then enforced these rates to prevent the underbidding by by corrupt brokers, and unscrupulous carriers. truckers could be guaranteed a livable income, could afford to maintain newer equipment, and could still compete with quality service and efficient drivers.

but thats just my view of it, talk amongst yourselves.
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Posted by rangpur on December 24, 2009 at 1:09 PM · Report this
19
These guys are obviously getting fucked over. Union!
Posted by Unionize on December 25, 2009 at 4:15 PM · Report this
20
Obviously these truckers lacked the good judgment to choose prosperous parents who could send them to good schools and prepare them for I-Banker careers. Having choosen so poorly, These men should just die, and and decrease the surplus population.
Posted by Mojohand on December 25, 2009 at 4:37 PM · Report this
21
yada yada yada.
Posted by pleeez. on December 25, 2009 at 6:42 PM · Report this
22
The solution is to bring lawsuits challenging the "independent contractor" label. These folks are "employees" and should enjoy the protections of labor laws that our great grandfathers fought for.
Posted by fartbreath on December 26, 2009 at 6:19 AM · Report this
23
From Jake's author profile, the other article he wrote is "Bitch-Slapped by Boeing: Why the Company Is Really Ditching Washington Workers."

Jake: how about something at least a little balanced, or at least openly disclosing your existing opinions?
Posted by fernand on December 26, 2009 at 8:14 AM · Report this
Texas10R 24
@10
Your post:

"The author should study economics and understand the way that a real free market system works really good before writting an emotional article about the rich v/s the poor crap. Trucks companies are going down just like any other small truck owner..."

is startlingly revealing of your credibility. Perhaps you should study English grammar, usage and spelling before ripping on someone else's impression of the free market system.

A note: the abbreviation for "versus" is vs. or v., rather than v/s. What a douche.
Posted by Your Name Here on December 26, 2009 at 10:10 AM
Posted by Texas10R on December 26, 2009 at 10:14 AM · Report this
25
The only dirty soot belching going on here is the well oiled smoking propaganda machine of the big labor group Change-to-Win who created the Coalition for Clean&Safe ports just so they could run the owner-operator trucker out of this ocean shipping business. That's right ban the owner-operator replacing them with employee company drivers not the independent contractor status that for years has prevented the CTW/Teamsters coalition from unionizing the trucker work force. What better way to do this then to play politics using the environment as an excuse blaming air pollution somehow on the right of a trucker to own his/her truck or small business in America. It's amazing how all of a sudden the diesel engines in older well maintained trucks have become threats to the environment overnight yet the statistics say trucks are only a small percentage of the pollution around the harbor. To top that off the ownership of trucks by hard working tax paying individuals is pronounced as the another culprit of poor air quality by these green labor backed experts who continue to entertain the local political powers. This is not at all about clean air folks but has everything to do with a quick fix on obtaining dues paying union members by the Coalition of Green Phonies. If this campaign by the Jolly Green CTW labor Coalition was truly about diesel exhaust than the simple fix would be to find out what's causing the long delays at the port while the trucks idle and also license trucks who do strictly port work by prescribing an emission test they would everyone have to pass in order to continue serving the port. Implementing year model bans or banning owner-operator truckers from hauling is un-American and borders on discrimination. But then again this GREEN Campaign is not about clean trucks is it?
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Posted by overload on December 26, 2009 at 9:03 PM · Report this
26
overload got it correct.
Posted by God1 on December 28, 2009 at 10:56 AM · Report this
27
Sounds like time for a protest of epic proportions:
AGITATE
EDUCATE
ORGANIZE.

If those guys weren't willing to undercut each other for work, the docks would pile up, and something would give. even if a national conglomerate came in, at least these guys would be employees, which it seems from your article is a goal.

What do the Teamsters' Union have to say about it?
Posted by Nuclear Marc on December 28, 2009 at 1:34 PM · Report this
keshmeshi 28
Unfortunately, because unemployment is so high, there aren't other options for these people.


This shit goes on in good times too.

But at least we now know why truckers pull those asinine protests whenever gas goes above $3/gallon. Yeah, protest the government because gas prices are too high, don't protest against your employers for taking advantage of you.

No wonder this country is so fucked.
Posted by keshmeshi on December 29, 2009 at 3:56 PM · Report this
29 Comment Pulled (Spam) Comment Policy
30
To all the people saying "economics says get another job": Die in a fire, you useless, vapid windbags.

The country now has about 10% unemployment. There aren't other jobs. In the meantime someone needs to move the product, and the way things are structured, old dirty trucks do the job. Things could be restructured to provide more money to the truckers and lessen the environmental impact of the Port. But y'all would rather spout Reaganomics like it hasn't been proven wrong a hundred times over.
Posted by dwight moody on December 29, 2009 at 5:13 PM · Report this
31
dwight moody has it right
Posted by de-regulation, oops on December 29, 2009 at 8:48 PM · Report this
michaelp 32
Blah blah blah. How many of you are or actually know any of these people?

My boyfriend's dad happens to be one of them, and is a first gen immigrant from Russia.

Now, here's the thing about immigrant communities that is far different from non-immigrant communities - they ARE real communities. It's not like people come here, and just magically purchase a truck, and then bitch about the low wages. Rather, they get help from friends and family, and pay them back over time.

A truck job is ideal for an immigrant that knows how to drive one. It has the promise of paying well, you get to, more or less, control your schedule, and your interactions with people who don't speak your native language is minimal. If you know how to work on your vehicle, even better.

The fact remains, however, that these owner-operators get screwed. As was correctly pointed out, they haven't gotten a raise in years, rather have seen a decrease in their income what with the cost of gasoline skyrocketing from where it was just ten years ago. Not dissimilar from airline pilots, this can and will lead to safety problems.

Even if it's not unionization (which would be preferred), some sort of major reform to how these people are paid is necessary. The incentive to drive like an asshole to get more deliveries should be taken away. The fact is that every piece of legislation to make trucking safer has put the onus on the driver (which is not necessarily a bad thing), while ignoring the fact that the pay system is asinine at best.

For people who say these people should just "flip burgers" - not only would that not pay what they take home now (at $9/hr, and assuming 40 hours a week, that would be $360 before taxes), but the mindset is different.

For people who think they should just stop showing up - then how will they get paid?

I only hope that the effect of the new mandate to purchase health insurance doesn't do much more to hurt the livelihoods of these people that you and I take for granted on a daily basis.
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Posted by michaelp on December 30, 2009 at 11:16 AM · Report this
33
I'd just like to mention that the term "independent contractor" has an actual legal meaning, and isn't just some term that a trucking company came up with to deny the truckers what some commenters believe are their rights as "employees".

The IRS (which is interested in a precise definition in order to collect taxes from the appropriate party) says that a worker is an independent contracter if the employer (the one paying for the work) has "the right to control or direct only the result of the work and not the means and methods of accomplishing the result".

So, if the trucking company mandates that the truckers have to show up at 4am, stay until 4pm, drive specific routes, drive a specific speed, etc., then I'd agree that they are employees (and the IRS would likely be interested in knowing this as well, since they'll get more tax revenue). However, I suspect that the truckers actually are independant contractors, with the associated benefits and costs. The benefit is that no one can tell you when to show up, or for how long. You get your day's work done by noon? Go home to your family. Would these workers really be willing to give up the entreprenurial aspect of their job and the associated freedom to go work for The Man?
Posted by merula on December 30, 2009 at 1:22 PM · Report this
Will in Seattle 34
"Can't" unionize or "won't"?

The reality is most unions have had to break and stomp repeatedly on laws to win.

Shut down the port and they'll negotiate.

They always do.
Posted by Will in Seattle http://www.facebook.com/WillSeattle on December 30, 2009 at 1:46 PM · Report this

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