Another Case Against Port Trucking Firm Underscores Widespread Industry Abuse, Disregard of Labor Laws, Teamsters Charge

Jun 30, 2010, 17:09 ET from International Brotherhood of Teamsters

Class-Action Lawsuit Alleges Sun Pacific Trucking Inc Committed 'Wage Theft'

LOS ANGELES, June 30 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- The Teamsters Union praised the courage of the Southern California port drivers who today filed a class-action suit against their employer, Sun Pacific Trucking, Inc., and Pacific Green Trucking, Inc., that alleges they were denied minimum wage, meal and rest periods, among other violations rampant in the deregulated industry. According to the driver's attorneys Sun Pacific and Pacific Green Trucking are nothing more than "alter egos" of the same enterprise and both are liable for the violations.



“Sun Pacific didn’t pay us for all of our time,” said one of the plaintiffs, Jorge Ramirez. “Nearly every day, Sun Pacific would have us work an extra hour here, an extra half-hour there. By the end of the week, all those hours add up. But we would never see our hard-earned money.”

The suit serves as only the latest example of widespread wage theft and other abuses by port trucking companies: It comes just as a powerful U.S. Congressional transportation committee has launched an investigation into questionable truck leasing practices that House representatives called "serfdom," and amid an ongoing California attorney general crackdown on misclassification.

The plaintiffs' attorney, Adam Luetto, recently filed a similar class-action lawsuit against another major port trucking company at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Total Transportation Services, Inc.

"Port drivers consistently claim that they are forced to drive long hours without breaks and required to perform work they never get paid for," Luetto said. "These drivers, unsurprisingly, are simply tired of working for free and we are working hard to hold their employers responsible for such unlawful employment practices."

The Teamsters, the nation's largest union of transportation workers, cooperated with the named plaintiffs' attorneys at the Law Offices of Ellyn Moscowitz, PC, Keller Grover, LLP, and the Law Offices of Scot D. Bernstein, A Professional Corporation, to provide evidence for the latest wage-and-hour complaint filed in Los Angeles Superior Court.

"What we are seeing in Southern California is mirrored in ports across the nation, trucking companies are simply accustomed to denying workers and their families their right to benefits and fair compensation," said Fred Potter, Teamsters International Vice President and Port Division Director. "The Teamsters will continue to cooperate with public officials, private attorneys and legal authorities to help put an end to the injustice that exists in ports across the country."

In the fall of 2008, the Port of Los Angeles enacted powerful new regulations as part of its Clean Truck Program that required trucking firms to take full responsibility of their workers and environmentally-compliant trucks.

The program began to transform the industry's low-road structure into an efficient, environmentally sound and fair business model. However, a Virginia-based trucking industry lobby that represents Southern California port firms, the American Trucking Association, launched a legal assault and obtained a temporary injunction just over a year ago that eroded the program's EPA award-winning standards in order to continue business as usual.

Today, the mounting scrutiny continues to raise questions about the legitimacy of the current structure of the port "drayage" industry. Following a May 5 congressional hearing, the House Highways and Transit Subcommittee commenced a joint investigation with the House Labor and Education Committee regarding trucking companies' treatment of drivers.

In February, California Attorney General Jerry Brown received a fifth legal judgment against port trucking companies who misclassify their workers and deny them the Social Security, Medicare and workers' compensation benefits to which they are entitled under state law.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.

SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters