Tuesday, February 21, 2012

How Seattle port drivers are ripped off by their employers

The recent march for Seattle port drivers. 
In These Times posted a terrific story about the two-week Seattle port drivers strike. To hear the Port of Seattle tell it, the strike didn't have an impact. To hear people who were there tell it, the trucking companies lost a lot of money. According to In These Times, 
...the “cans,” as they’re called, stacked up on ships, in rail yards, and at warehouses. The port’s lifeblood slowed to a crawl. Cargo has to move for shippers and trucking companies to make money. A still container, a waiting ship and an idle truck all mean lost profits. It was clear the strike was costing employers a lot of money.
Here's how port drivers get ripped off: 

  1. The drivers have to lease the tractors from the trucking companies -- but can't use them for anything other than company business. 
  2. Employers punish drivers who refuse overweight loads by denying them work for a few days. If the drivers are stopped by the Highway Patrol for being overweight, they pay the fine. The trucking companies flat-out refuse to give them copies of the manifests.
  3. Employers charge drivers $120 a week for liability insurance, though the freight is already insured by the shippers. If a driver doesn't work for a week, their employers take $120  from future earnings.
Read the whole thing here