Friday, May 31, 2013

Ga. port drivers to speak out about low wages, misclassification tomorrow

Savannah port drivers are fighting back against the trucking companies that exploit them at a community forum tomorrow morning.

The Port of Savannah is the fourth largest and fastest growing container port in the U.S. That means steady work for port drivers. But it doesn't mean work that can support a middle-class family.

Savannah's professional port drivers are treated like sharecroppers on wheels. They are shackled by classification as independent contractors and stripped of all the rights of an employee.

Wages are low, operating costs are high, and the hours are dangerously long.

The drivers aren't paid enough to safely maintain the trucks or to upgrade them to the clean-burning rigs that environmentalists and public health advocates are demanding at the Port of Los Angeles Long Beach, Seattle and Newark.

Our Teamster brothers and sisters at Local 728 in Atlanta are hosting a forum tomorrow for the drivers to tell the community about their dangerous, low-wage jobs.

WTOC-TV reporter Bob Logana will moderate the panel, which includes an impressive line-up of elected officials, labor leaders and clergy. Attending the forum will be:
  • The Honorable Carolyn Bell, alderman, Savannah City Council
  • Larry Benjamin, assistant district director, U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division
  • The Honorable Bob Bryant, state representative, Georgia House of Representatives
  • Chester Dunham, Savannah Chapter president, A. Phillip Randolph Institute
  • John H. Finney, CEO, Chief Executive Officer, Economic Opportunity Authority for Savannah-Chatham County
  • Brett Hulme, president, Savannah Regional Central Labor Council
  • The Honorable Lester G. Jackson, senator, Georgia State Senate
  • Pastor Ricardo Manuel, Second Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church, Inc.
  • The Honorable Albert J. Scott, chairman, Chatham County Commission
  • Willie J. Seymore, president, International Longshoremen’s Association (ILA) ~ Local 1414.
You can see a great television news story about conditions at the Port of Savannah here. Find out more here.