Labor violations force truckers into life of servitude

Today’s post was shared by Jon L Gelman and comes from

HARI SREENIVASAN, PBS NEWSHOUR WEEKEND ANCHOR: Truck drivers are a crucial link in the supply chain of getting imported goods from ports to stores. An investigative report by “USA Today” shows those drivers work long hours for low pay, all while being heavily in debt from leasing their trucks. The story, “Rigged,” published yesterday, recounts how at least 140 truck companies in southern California have been accused of labor violations, and forcing truckers into working conditions akin to indentured servitude.

The article’s author, Brett Murphy, joins me from Naples, Florida, to discuss the story. Tell us what’s happening to these truckers?

BRETT MURPHY, USA TODAY: Well, the companies found a loophole in the labor law. By calling these guys independent contractors instead of employees, no real rules apply. They can kind of do whatever they want — or they think they can.

So, what they’ve been able to do was sort of find a large population of truck drivers, mostly immigrants, about 16,000 immigrant drivers. And when the state told these companies that they had to use newer, cleaner trucks, instead of paying for it themselves, they came up with this idea of lease-to-own contracts, lease-to-own agreements.

And when the drivers came into work one day, just like they had been for decades, the company said, if you want to keep your job here, if you want to keep driving, you need to sign this contract. They didn’t translate it….

[Click here to see the rest of this post]