West Coast Ports Contract Dispute Hurts Self-Employed Truckers

Image courtesy of frankieleon

While shipping companies and dockworkers continue their dispute over contracts on the Pacific coast, the slowdown of cargo from these ports is starting to affect factories, retailers, and farmers. (Not to mention the French fry situation in Japan.) Yet one unaffiliated group that’s losing out are the truck drivers who would normally bring much of the cargo now waiting just off the shore to its final destination.

The union representing dock workers and the trade organization representing shipping lines haven’t made progress on contract talks since April of 2014, and the two sides disagree about why it’s taking longer than usual to move cargo through the ports. One of the unintended consequences of slower cargo unloading, though, is that it’s disproportionately hurting independent truckers.

While some truck drivers work for a salary, the majority are independent contractors. They earn money for each run they make, not for every day that they work or wait for containers to appear at the port. CNN reports that drivers count on making three runs per day, and there aren’t enough containers unloaded to keep them all working. According to the CEO of the port of Long Beach, a record number of truck drivers are defaulting on their truck loans and losing their rigs. If there are fewer drivers available once the slowdown ends and the port catches up, that could cause yet another continuing traffic jam of containers of stuff.

Truck drivers are big losers in port dispute [CNN]