Worker advocacy groups say nearly 70 percent of port truckers misclassified as contractors

Port of OaklandPort of Oakland

Nearly 50,000 of the 75,000 port truckers in the U.S. are misclassified as independent contractors, according to a recent report, which says the misclassification costs federal and state governments significant tax losses.

The Feb. 19 report was sponsored by the National Employment Law Project, Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and Change to Win Strategic Organizing Center — all three worker advocacy groups. 

The study, dubbed “The Big Rig: Poverty, Pollution, and the Misclassification of Truck Drivers at America’s Ports”, suggested changing of federal labor laws and more effective enforcement by states and the federal government to get a handle on misclassification. 

The researchers calculated the total number of U.S. port truckers through Department of Homeland Security surveys, port truck registries and other data. They consulted Internal Revenue Service literature for definitions of employee and IC.

They also re-analyzed surveys of more than 2,000 port truckers from 2010, of which 82 percent were misclassified as independent contractors, along with citing a Government Accountability Office report from 2009 that looked at six years worth of IRS data. 

“For 84 percent of the workers misclassified as independent contractors in tax year 1984, employers reported the workers’ compensation to IRS and the workers, as required, on the IRS Form 1099-MISC information return,” the government researchers had written.

The same workers had only reported 77 percent of their income on their returns that year. The IRS would not complete the next extended review on misclassification until 2013 at the earliest, the GAO added.