Independent vs. employee driver debate transforms harbor trucking 

view of a truck from the front

From JOC.comBill Mongelluzzo discusses the debate between classifying truck drivers as employees or independent contractors.  While independent contractors may be able to earn more, they have to pay for truck maintenance and their own health insurance and retirement benefits.  Bill writes:

Harbor trucking appears to be evolving into a two-model system. The independent-contractor model is best suited for entrepreneurial drivers who are comfortable with a high-risk, high-reward environment, while other drivers prefer the security of an hourly wage and guaranteed benefits.

Unfortunately for the harbor trucking industry and for truck drivers, choice has been removed from the equation, and ports have become a battleground where companies are fighting to preserve the independent-contractor model, and the Teamsters union is suing them to force adoption of the employee-driver model, said Vic LaRosa, a Southern California trucking executive with financial interests in both types of companies.

“It’s frustrating. No one cares what the driver thinks,” LaRosa told the JOC’s 16th TPM conference. “The industry is asking for the option to decide,” he said.

Southern California was the perfect place in which to hold this debate because Los Angeles-Long Beach the past two years has witnessed a number of job actions and lawsuits, oftentimes supported by the Teamsters, aimed at forcing companies to convert their independent drivers to employee drivers so the union can organize them.

Unions by law can not organize independent contractors, such as drivers who own or lease their trucks, pay for maintenance and insurance and choose where and when to work. Owner-operators are normally paid by the trip. Unions can, however, organize companies with employee drivers. The employee drivers are usually paid by the hour and have medical insurance and retirement benefits.

LaRosa, who started TTSI in the late 1980s and continues to operate the company on the independent-contractor model, said that for the right type of driver who has an entrepreneurial sense, experience in navigating through the maze of congested marine terminals and a tolerance for the peaks and valleys of port commerce, owning and operating the truck provides potentially much better earnings than employee drivers enjoy.

Read the full story at Independent vs. employee driver debate transforms harbor trucking

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