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Sat Dec 10, 2011, 09:26 PM

How Goldman Sachs and Other Companies Exploit Port Truck Drivers Occupy (con't) [View all]

-Occupy Protesters Plan to Shut Down West Coast Ports in Protest


But what many people may not know is that these sweatshop conditions don't end when those goods hit American soil. Between the dock where the cargo is unloaded and the shelf from which you pluck your treasure, there are several critical lynchpins. One of them is port truck drivers. These drivers (around 110,000 of them in the United States) are responsible for moving approximately 20 million containers a year from the ports to railway yards and warehouses. Drivers operating large trucks are expected to safely haul loads up to 80,000 pounds. It's a job for professionals, only these professionals are earning poverty wages, sometimes even less than you'd make flipping burgers at a fast food restaurant. Once a middle-class profession, the port trucking (or drayage) industry has now been dubbed "sweatshops on wheels."

Drivers, along with clergy and their union, environmental and community allies have been fighting for years for better working conditions and wages, but their plight has recently caught the attention of the Occupy movement. On Nov. 2, during a day billed as a general strike, tens of thousands of people swarmed the Port of Oakland, temporarily stopping work during the evening. Now, Occupiers are calling for a shutdown on Dec. 12 at all West Coast ports.


After deregulation, union companies were forced out of the market, and new companies found a way to squeeze even greater profit at the expense of workers. They sold their trucks back to drivers, Bensman explains, and then made them "independent contractors," meaning that the drivers would not make an hourly wage but instead would be be paid per load, and companies would no longer be responsible for costs such as health care, social security, worker's compensation, pensions, and payroll taxes.

The report, The Big Rig: Poverty, Pollution, and the Misclassi&#64257;cation of Truck Drivers at America's Ports by Rebecca Smith, Dr. David Bensman, and Paul Alexander Marvy, found that just four years after the industry was deregulated, wages dropped 15-20 percent and fell to 30 percent lower by 1995. According to the report, today contract drivers make an estimated $11.91 per hour, compared with $14.71 for employees. Even despite the several dollar difference in pay each hour, real wages for contractors are even lower closer to $8 an hour.

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Reply How Goldman Sachs and Other Companies Exploit Port Truck Drivers Occupy (con't) [View all]
Starry Messenger Dec 2011 OP
saras Dec 2011 #1