Over 600 non-unionised workers at dock in Seattle walk out in protest against horrendous working conditions. What started at one company has now spread to over a dozen. The workers are not going back to work until the bosses give into their demands.
Historically the drivers have worked in horrendous conditions, received low pay, harassment by law enforcement, and trucking companies, and disgraceful fees charged by companies that means that sometimes the drivers do not get paid, and actually owe money.
Drivers at one company stopped work, but the strike has now spread to twelve companies, and 600 drivers, resulting in a slowing of traffic through the ports.
Over 100 drivers went to the state capital on Monday to support the passing of new health and safety legislation that will allow drivers the right to veto unsafe loads. Currently the drivers have to take whatever they are told, yet when they are pulled over by the police for carrying unsafe loads, their employers pass responsibility and the fine onto drivers.
“It's time for a change,” driver Calvin Borders told a rally of truck drivers on Feb. 6. “If equipment is damaged, the drivers should not be held responsible for it. We are going to fight until we get our demands met.” The workers drive beat-up and poorly maintained trucks, which the companies provide. The truckers frequently get tickets for illegal equipment or for being overloaded, conditions the bosses force on them. An overweight citation from the cops costs $716, which could come with a company suspension, workers said.”
The drivers are falsely classed as independent contractors and self-employed, therefore ineligible for trade union representation. . “Michael, a driver, said: “We have to pay for insurance, fuel, dispatch fees, $161-a-month tonnage fees and repairs. We work for below-the-minimum wage and we have families to feed and mortgages to pay. The biggest issue is the conditions.”
It has been reported that many drivers have been sacked due to their participation in the walkout. Drivers who have returned to work have been bullied and victimised by the bosses.
People from the local ‘occupy’ camp have arranged a food collection for the drivers, and they are not making any money whilst on strike
Messages of support can be sent to: [email protected]