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Port of Seattle truckers
(© David Bacon)

Hundreds of truck drivers at the Port of Seattle walked off the job last week to protest unsafe working conditions and other abuses—and they're still staying off the job. The Coalition for Clean and Safe Ports reports that, at the port:

Containers are normally stacked only two or three high. Now every stack climbs to four or five units tall. The chronically congested, seemingly endless terminal lines are gone, replaced by skimpy truck queues maybe 10 or 11 rigs deep. Ships that look as lonely as they are large can be spotted from Highway 99, idling in Puget Sound. Those are the ocean liners that can’t unload cargo or receive exports because there are too few drivers to move the shipments. Several trucking companies have gates closed or chains around their fences to yards that are normally only locked at night.
Last week, drivers went to speak to the state legislature in Olympia about the safety problems they face:
Drivers were supported by Washington state troopers who also testified before state legislature representatives of the chronic dangers in the state’s drayage industry. In 2011 alone, 58% of cargo vehicles were deemed unsafe by authorities, according to Capt. Jason Berry, who said that at one point in the last year, 80% of the entire fleet at the port was prevented from operating due to disrepair, according to reports.
Drivers are typically misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees, shifting many of the costs and risks of working onto the workers, who don't control their schedules or what loads they haul and don't own much of the equipment they use, which often leaves them paying fines on equipment owned by their employers. The state legislature is considering "bills that would shift more responsibility to the companies that subcontract the drivers."

In retaliation for going to speak in favor of that legislation, at least one worker, Demeke Meconnen, was suspended for refusing to haul a dangerously overweight load.

Originally posted to Daily Kos Labor on Thu Feb 09, 2012 at 11:58 AM PST.

Also republished by Occupy Wall Street.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Hopefully, things are different in Seattle (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    glorificus, JayRaye

    Back when I worked in Carson, drayage companies would just turn around & hire poorer and even more desperate immigrants to drive if harbor truckers did anything similar.

  •  I saw the earlier piece on this and I'm glad it (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    isabelle hayes, Utahrd, JayRaye

    was followed up. The next few years should be interesting if the 99% collectively say, "I'm mad as hell and I'm not going to take it anymore!" ala Network.

    Kudos and prayers for the striking drivers. Do they have a strike fund to help with their bills?

    If life gives you melons, you may be dyslexic.

    by glorificus on Thu Feb 09, 2012 at 01:57:20 PM PST

  •  look at those men, i love them (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    they're nobodies, but they're very very real, and happy, even though exploited; because their cause is just

    and what it takes to strike today in the usa, is just as, if not harder than in the 30's;

    am reading The Lacuna, a book about a lot of things, but including eyewitnesses' accounts of what the army did to the (former) soldiers, who'd fought for this country in wwi, and were promised a bonus when they were discharged;

    but then the repugs told them the money ran out, so no bonus, maybe next year; the men and their families, including children, camped out in wash. d.c. until the heroes-to-be generals mcarthur and patton used cavalry (sabers, horses, etc.), just like the czar, to destroy the place and many of the people;

    but you know what? solidarity forever is no lie
    "i can't go on, i will go on" (e.hutz)

    •  WE NEVER FORGET (0+ / 0-)

      June 28 & 29, 1932
      Martyrs of the Bonus Army
      4 veterans
      2 babies, d. from gas

      Haven't yet found their names, but won't stop searching.

      If there's a reason for the rich to rule, please Lord, tell us why. -Battle of Jericol, Coal Mining Women

      by JayRaye on Thu Feb 09, 2012 at 05:47:47 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Strike Fund (0+ / 0-)

    Here is the link with instructions on where to drop off food, send checks or how to donate to the drivers online -

    •  Nationwide Problem at Every Port (0+ / 0-)

      The steamship lines and drayage companies who own these containers do not repairthem in any industray standard manner. Half the  tiers are bald when a driver picks the container up and susually, if it blows, the driver can be charged for the tire for "abuse".

      The trucking companies themselves could care less because most of the drivers are owner operators, not subject to the same laws as company employees, not able to join o rform unions, and they are paid either milage or percentage and NEVER hourly.

      The ports don't care either. They don't generate any revenue any differently between a safe container and a dangerous one.

      The issue is exacerbated even more because often, the company that owns the chssis (the wheels on which the container sits) is NOT the same compnay that owns the container. Having a blow out on the side of the road often means 3-4 hours dead time (no pay) for the drive waiting...

      Law enforcment knows ALL of this, yet they have no choice but to issue a citation to the DRIVER necause he is the one rolling down the highway with it...

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