As truckers threaten strike and dockworkers slow work, Congress looks to allow guv’s to intervene in port disputes

Some California port truckers have struck in recent months due to their status as independent contractors instead of company employees, which they say institutes ongoing wage theft. Drivers for the Intermodal Bridge Express could be on the verge of striking again.Some California port truckers have struck in recent months due to their status as independent contractors instead of company employees, which they say institutes ongoing wage theft. Drivers for the Intermodal Bridge Express could be on the verge of striking again.

As labor disputes at West Coast ports continue for both truck operators and dockworkers, Congress is working on a measure to allow governors to more easily intervene in labor disputes that could threaten flow of U.S. goods.

The latest truckers to threaten strike are those working for Intermodal Bridge Transport out of Los Angeles. The company’s so-deemed owner-operators have threatened to strike if IBT does not recognize their right to unionize. The truck operators also filed a lawsuit this year claiming they are misclassified as independent contractors and should instead be classified as company employees. They have the backing of the Teamsters Union.

Also last week, Sen. Cory Gardner (R-Col.) introduced legislation in Congress’ upper chamber that would allow governors, not just the president, to intervene in labor disputes at ports by invoking the Taft-Hartley Act of 1947. The legislation would allow governors to petition courts to enjoin port slowdowns due to strikes and lockouts.

Also, lingering labor unrest between dockworkers and port company managers could be flaring up again. A 9-month dispute that caused months of slowdowns and congestion was resolved in February. But last week, the Port of Oakland experienced its third work stoppage in a week by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union due to disputes over new chassis inspection procedures.

Also in port-related news, Los Angeles is testing the Cargomatic mobile appthat speeds container cargo flow in the city’s port. The “Cargomatic Free Flow” program is a web-based solution for cargo owners, terminals and trucking companies.

It allows trucks with unused capacity and shippers needing to move LTL freight and full loads to find each other. Drivers are required to have smart phones and motor carriers, owner-operators and beneficial cargo owners may participate

Other San Pedro Bay marine container terminals and the Port of New York and New Jersey are now participating in the program.

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