Southern California port truckers demonstrate amid slow movement of goods, other labour discord

LOS ANGELES, Calif. – Truckers who haul cargo containers in and out of the massive seaports in Los Angeles and Long Beach staged the latest in a string of demonstrations Thursday against what they call unfair labour practices.

Dozens of demonstrators set up outside eight of the twin ports’ 15 container terminals, but spokesmen for each port said there was minimal impact on the movement of containers through terminal gates.

The action came amid broader discord on the docks.

The union representing longshoremen and the association representing their employers are trading blame over the slow movement of cargo, even as they negotiate a contract to cover all 29 West Coast ports. Those ports handled nearly $900 billion in goods last year and are a vital link in trade with Asia.

Truckers have periodically targeted three companies they say improperly classify them as contractors, not full-time employees, to minimize wages and benefits. In July, some truckers went on strike against the companies — and dockworkers responded by briefly walking off the job. Mayor Eric Garcetti brokered a deal that brought the truckers back to work, but that fell apart.

On Thursday afternoon, Garcetti’s office said that one of the companies, Green Fleet Systems, had agreed to a new “cooling off period” that would resume normal operations. A second company, Total Transportation Services Inc., agreed to talk to workers, according to Garcetti’s office.

A spokesman representing the trucking comments did not return a call requesting comment.