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Are The Truckers Independent Contractors?

According to Labor Notes, they are:

Drivers are currently considered by the law as independent contractors and not trucking company employees. Anti-trust laws ban them from unionizing.


Despite these legal hurdles, the Communication Workers attempted a drive in the mid-90s in West Coast ports, and the Teamsters have launched a number of drives more recently.

Troqueros have continued to mount legal challenges to the employee status rulings. According to Ernesto Nevarez, a member of Truckers Unite, a network of port drivers and their supporters, recent rulings have been more positive. Nevarez also contends that unions, like the Teamsters, have avoided challenging the status rulings and are "circumventing the issue."

--Labor Notes, June 2004.

However, according to Ernesto Nevarez, they aren't:

[The above] quote from Labor Notes was untrue and unsubstantiated in the article. A correct statement should had read "The trucking industry has claimed that. . ."

The truth of the matter is:

  • Close to 20% of the port drivers drive a company owned truck or a truck owned by a third person and without a doubt are employees.
  • The other 80% lease their trucks to the companies.
  • The IRS has found these lessor-drivers to be employees.
  • The State W/C has found lessor-drivers to be employees.
  • Many of the basis for the industry's claim are based on illegal practices such as charging for insurance which is being contested by glicklaw and the claiming that the company's are not responsible for the tractor are illegal see cfr49 sec. 376.12.
  • IBT local 63 v. RPS in the NLRB determined employment status for drivers that lease trucks to the employer and the recent Taxicab case in Oakland upheld by the full board determines the employment status for those in OTR in which a sham lease exist for the tractor from them employer to the worker.

Do not assume that "truckers" are independent contractors! That is not the case. In fact, in our file library are IRS cases determining lessor-drivers to be employees. We have also won at the Workers Comp and labor boards. Also, please do not assume that the terminal operators do not exercise sufficient control and direction as to be employers. The troquero is totally under the control and direction of the terminal operator. Poor dispatcher at the trucking company has no sayso in the harbor and is not even allowed to enter the premises. So we are employees of the trucking companies and of the terminal operators while on their premises which amounts to several hours of work everyday.

In either case, it is in the best interests of the truckers to organize to win!