Thursday, January 10, 2013

LA Truckers, Management Reach Milestone Agreement

About 65 truck drivers who haul goods to and from the Los Angeles-Long Beach port complex have reached a landmark agreement with Australian logistics company Toll Group on a contract that gives drivers significant pay raises and benefits.

The drivers, who were previously independent contractors that were paid by the load hauled, unionized under the Teamsters in April 2012. Under the new contract, which was agreed to Jan. 9, they will see their day shift hourly rate increased from $12.72 to $19 and their night shift hourly rate jump from $13.22 to $19.75.

“We commend these truck drivers for their leadership in challenging the status quo at the ports,” Teamsters President James Hoffa said. “Toll Group and its drivers have raised the bar for responsible competition.”

In addition to the immediate raises, drivers also won 50-cent-per-hour annual raises over the life of the contract, giving Toll port drivers hourly wage boosts of more than 60 percent over the life of the three-year contract.

“This is a great victory for truckers who have been fighting for living wages and decent conditions at Toll for several years now,” Michael Kaine, acting national secretary of the Transport Workers’ Union, which represents Toll Group drivers in Australia, said. “This agreement, the first for port truckers in the US for almost 30 years, will act as springboard for organizing the entire port trucking industry over the coming years.”

The first-ever contract also shifts a bulk of drivers’ health care costs to their employer, grants overtime, paid sick leave and holidays, offers guaranteed hours and a pension plan.

Overtime pay of time-and-half kicks in after drivers work a 40-hour week. According to the truckers, an average workweek for them is currently around 60 hours.

As Teamster Local 848 members, the drivers have been automatically enrolled in the union’s Western Conference Pension Trust. Toll Group will make a pension contribution of $1 an hour per driver until 2014, and a $1.50 an hour per driver by 2015.

“This new agreement shows that international solidarity between workers does make a real difference and that when workers stand together they can win real change that will lead to improved standards across the trucking industry,” Kaine said.