Company fails to protect drivers from COVID-19, port truckers claim

March 16, 2021

Mark Schremmer

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A pair of truck drivers working at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach filed a formal complaint against Container Connection alleging it failed to protect its drivers from COVID-19.

Truck drivers David Averruz and Juan Carlos Giraldo submitted the complaint with the California Division of Occupational Safety and Health on Monday, March 15. The truckers allege that Container Connection, a short-haul company and subsidiary of Universal Logistics Holdings, created unsafe conditions that violate the California Labor Code.

The complaint requests an immediate on-site inspection to investigate COVID-19 hazards and inadequate prevention policies and procedures. Averruz and Giraldo are being represented by the Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

According to a news release from the Teamsters, the complaint “is the first of its kind addressing the conditions faced during the pandemic by drivers transporting goods from the ports to retailer warehouses.”

“Container Connection is in the sole position to identify and report hazards to customers to protect drivers’ safety and health,” the complaint alleged. “Container Connection drivers are hesitant to report COVID-19 hazards to customers’ warehouses because of the fear of reprisal – having their load rejected or being banned from the site. This fear is based on past experiences from drivers raising concerns on other issues.”

According to the complaint, several drivers contracted the coronavirus, but Container Connection never informed the other drivers about a positive test. In one instance, the complaint alleges that a driver contracted the virus this past May and was unable to work for four months.

“The company did not offer him any paid sick leave nor bothered to call him,” the complaint stated. “The driver believes that he caught the virus in a customer’s warehouse … Other drivers were informed about his case by word of mouth among drivers, not through the company.”

The complaint alleges several COVID-19 safety hazards or violations.

  • Lack of masks. The complaint alleges that drivers are forced to interact with individual who are not wearing masks, including security guards at Container Connection’s truck yards.
  • Lack of social distancing. The complaint says there are often no procedures to enforce social distancing at warehouses where drivers make deliveries.
  • Failure to sanitize shared equipment. According to the complaint, drivers are required to use a broad range of shared public equipment with no known cleaning procedure.
  • Failure to notify drivers of potential COVID-19 exposure. According to the complaint, several drivers contracted the virus, but Container Connection took no steps to prevent the spread by informing the other drivers that they may have been exposed. LL
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Mark Schremmer, senior editor, joined Land Line in 2015. An award-winning journalist and former assistant news editor at The Topeka Capital-Journal, he brings fresh ideas, solid reporting skills, and more than two decades of journalism experience to our staff.