On Thursday November 9, over 100 community and faith leaders bore witness to testimonies presented by warehouse workers and truck drivers who move goods that flow through the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Speakers will expose the abuses and injustices they face daily as they work on City property. “Over 400 people work here, and most of us work through the temp agency. Every day we go to the warehouse to find out if we have work” said D’Wayne Wilson, a warehouse worker at California Cartage/NFI on Port of Los Angeles property. “I support my entire family, rent just went up again, and once work slows down, I’ll only get two or three days of work per week,” said Wilson, who makes slightly more than minimum wage. “Some of my co-workers are homeless or live in their cars,” Wilson added.
Truck drivers like Domingo Avalos also had stories of dire conditions at the port. “Drivers work 16 to 18 hours per day with no benefits, we don’t even own our trucks. If you get injured, you are thrown away,” said Avalos, a Port Truck driver for global logistics company XPO Logistics. “While I work for only one company, they tell me I am an independent contractor. I receive no Social Security, disability, have no workers’ compensation insurance. I am told the minimum wage does not apply to me, that I have no right to organize.” These conditions apply to over 12,000 truck drivers at the Port, all of whom move goods for the largest retailers in the world.
The Southern Christian Leadership Conference of Southern California, in partnership with the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE), Warehouse Worker Resource Center (WWRC) and Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE-LA) organized the Truth Commission to End Abuse at LA’s Port because of the need for increased awareness about the fact that jobs at the port, rather than creating good jobs that benefit communities, is creating insecure, low wage jobs. The Truth Commission to End Abuse at LA’s Portincludes community leaders from across the city, including
- Pastor William Monroe Campbell, Senior Pastor, Mount Gilead Missionary Baptist Church
- Jean Franklin, Executive Director, Anchor of Hope Reentry Ministry
- Jackie Goldberg, Chair, Targeted Local Hire Program Workgroup at City of Los Angeles
- David Huerta, President, SEIU USWW
- Pablo Alvarado, Executive Director, National Day Laborer Organizing Network
- Jim Mangia, President, St. John’s Well Child and Family Center
“Tonight, we heard stories of injustices at the Port of Los Angeles. Of dangerous conditions and racial discrimination. I am ashamed that we are seeing these conditions on Los Angeles City property,” said Truth Commissioner Jackie Goldberg, a former LA City Councilmember and author of the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance.“The City Council and Harbor Commission must take action to end injustice and lawbreaking at our port,” added Pastor William Monroe Campbell of Mount Gilead Missionary Baptist Church. The Commission agreed to investigate and develop a report on these conditions among warehouse workers and truck drivers at the port by early 2018, and to provide the report to Port officials.
Most importantly, warehouse workers and truck drivers continue to take action to improve their working conditions. “We know that NFI Cal Cartage tries to pit black workers against Latinos in order to keep us divided. We refuse to let that happen. We are standing together, black and Latino, warehouse workers and truck drivers, united for good jobs,” Wilson said.