Wildcat Truckers Strike Hits Port of Seattle – Hundreds Walk Off
update feb 13 demonstration slideshow:
article on feb 13 demo:
update: via king5.com thur feb 9
SEATTLE — The Port of Seattle says the strike by hundreds of truck drivers is having an impact and the movement looks like it keeps growing. The more than 100 drivers picketing outside the Union Pacific rail yard Thursday say they need to make more money and need to be safe doing it.
update Rally to Support the Truckers called for Monday Feb 13:
Seattle Port Trucker Strike Rally!Public Event · By Seattle Solidarity.
Monday, February 13, 2012.9:00am until 12:00pm.. E. Marginal Way and Hanford, under the viaduct
Over the last two weeks non-unionized short-haul truckers at the port have refused to work until they receive better treatment. For months they’ve been trying to build an association to fight back. These mostly immigrant workers face horrendous conditions on the ports – e…xtremely low pay, harassment from law enforcement and trucking companies, exorbitant fees charged by the companies that more than once have resulted in “negative” paychecks for the drivers.
Because of this they’ve stopped work, first at just one company, but it has since spread to many companies, slowing all traffic at the port. They’ve asked us to support them at a strike rally they’ll hold on Monday. We’ll be there with banners and flyers. Their situation is desperate, and it’s extremely important we show solidarity, we’re there to say “We support the Seattle truck drivers and their association.”
Depending on how their actions go there may be future ways we can help out. People from Occupy have also organized a food drive for the truckers – who aren’t making any money while they’re out. Please feel free to bring some donations of non-perishable food, diapers, baby wipes and etc – for the striking truckers and their families
*SEE YOU MONDAY!*
“SEATTLE — Hundreds of truck drivers at the Port of Seattle have walked off the job and lawmakers are deciding if they need to take action.”
“Drivers at several trucking companies that haul containers between the port and intermodal rail yards are refusing loads because they charge the companies they contract with are paying them less than the market rate in the harbor area.
Harbor trucking companies normally negotiate a drayage rate with shipping lines or cargo interests. The general practice is for the trucking company to keep a percentage of the rate and then pass the rest on to the drivers. In this instance, drivers say some motor carriers are retaining a higher percentage of the drayage rate than is customary in Puget Sound.”
“As many as 30 or 40 percent of the short-haul truckers who normally move containers from docks to railcar terminals at the Port of Seattle have stopped working.
The work stoppage comes after one of the drivers was retaliated against for attending a hearing in Olympia last week on a proposal to improve their working conditions.
They’re independent contractors, who are predominantly immigrants, and say the conditions they’re forced to contend with make the job unsafe.
Community groups are now rallying in their support.”
“Waterfront truckers are typically classified as “independent contractors” and paid $40 to $44 per load. After spending money to insure and maintain their aging trucks, drivers average around $30,000 a year net income. They are not allowed to use restrooms at the port gates, and say they are sometimes called the N-word or animals.
“It looks like Alabama — this is in Seattle, West Seattle!” said Aynalem Moba, a leader in the new Seattle Port Truckers Association.”
Driven by a broken economic system, port truck drivers in Seattle and Tacoma are robbed of basic protections afforded other types of workers in the United States and paid as little as $10 or $11 an hour. Low-wage port truck drivers are forced to carry the entire cost of owning and maintaining their own trucks and are often only able to afford to oldest and dirtiest trucks available. As a result, communities located near ports or along major truck routes are saturated by toxic, deadly diesel pollution.
The Coalition for Clean & Safe Ports is a local and national alliance of environmental activists, truck drivers, faith leaders, labor unions and community advocates fighting for environmental and economic justice at our nation’s ports.
The Ports of Seattle and Tacoma sit 25 miles apart on Puget Sound. Together, they form the third largest container load center in North America, trailing only the Port of New York and New Jersey and the adjacent Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.1
• The total value of the Portʼs maritime imports and exports annually exceeds $56 billion dollars.
• 70% of the goods arriving in Puget Sound ultimately end up in the Midwest; Puget Sound ports
principally serve as a transit point for goods moving from East Asia to Midwestern retailers.
• The Portsʼ principle imports are toys, cars, sports equipment, clothing and electronics.
• In 2009, the Ports moved roughly 1,700,000 containers.
The vast majority of cargo handled at the Ports is moved between the region’s marine terminals, warehouses and rail yards by diesel trucks. Port officials counted 3,259 of these trucks serving the Port of Tacoma in 2010 and 1,416 serving one of Seattle’s four terminals in 2008.5 6 After discounting for infrequent visitors and drivers that visit both ports, the Port of Tacoma and Seattle terminals are routinely served by an estimated 2,000-2,500 drivers.
• The most recent study of port drivers in Puget Sound was conducted in 2006, just before the
economic downturn. Even so, the survey found that the median income of drivers working at the Port
of Seattle was $28,500 per year.
• More than half reported working longer than the legal limit of 11 hours per day. The typical driver is married, in his forties, and has children. The misclassification of port truck drivers has allowed industry to shift the responsibility of the truck purchase and maintenance over to individual workers. These low-wage earners have purchased the only vehicles they can afford: old, dilapidated rigs. Unable to afford proper maintenance, these vehicles become more polluting and unsafe with every passing year.
• An estimated 95% of the nationʼs 110,000 port trucks fail to meet current U.S. EPA emission
standards, increasing diesel pollution by one thousand percent.
• In the immediate port-adjacent neighborhoods of South Park and Georgetown, the EPA has found
that cancer risk is 27 times higher than the national average.10 Dioxin from diesel burning trucks is reported to be one of the principle culprits.
• Similarly, the concentration of fine particulate matter – one of the principle pollutes emitted by diesel trucks – in Georgetown appears to be the highest in the region. Because of the high concentrations of particulates, residents are at elevated risk for asthma, cancer, heart disease, and other life threatening diseases.
VIDEO: Demeke “Yared” Meconnen Seattle Port Truck Driver
VIDEO: Abdulhakim Mussid: Seattle Port Truck Driver
VIDEO: Prayer Breakfast for Port of Seattle Truck Drivers (2010)