Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Port truck drivers get paychecks for $0

Take a look at the paycheck of this port truck driver. He worked 32 hours for a net pay of zero. He actually owed his employer $196.30 for the “privilege” of working!

The wages of port drivers all over the country are being systematically stolen through employer scams that boost company profits.

They aren't the only ones. Josh Eidelson at Salon posted a story, "I worked all week for free?!: The horrifying, true story of $0 paychecks." He writes,
...guest workers employed by Mister Clean Laundry and Cleaning Services filed a federal complaint and went on strike Aug. 19. “We were scared,” said striker Shellion Parris, but “we knew in the back of our heads that we need to do this, we have to do this.” 
Photos provided to Salon by the National Guestworker Alliance, the group behind the work stoppage, show checks reading “No Dollars and No Cents,” and a page dated June 25 warning guest workers on H-2B visas that, “Any worker who does not show up for your assignment will be immediately removed from Mister Clean Housing and will be reported as AWOL (Absent Without Leave) to ICE (Immigration Custom Enforcement).” The statement, which was in all-caps, continued, “You will then be escorted to pick up your plane ticket and go back to Jamaica. You will have an ICE and Okaloosa County Sheriff Department Escort.” Workers say that warning arrived stapled to their checks. Mister Clean did not respond to a request for comment.
Here's how most port trucking companies rip off their workers: The vast majority misclassify drivers as “independent contractors,” though they work the same way as employee drivers. Why? To eliminate the cost of having employees (payroll taxes, health insurance, vacations, retirement benefits, disability insurance), and to eliminate the cost of running a trucking business (truck leases, insurance, maintenance)!

With the help of the Teamsters, drivers at ports around the country are fighting back. In California alone, nearly 10 percent of truck drivers serving the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach filed claims with the California Labor Commissioner. Industry liability could reach $100 million in stolen wages.