Port drivers file wage claims against Cal Cartage Express

December 3, 2018

Mark Schremmer


Port truck drivers for California Cartage Transportation Express filed claims for minimum wage violations last week with the Los Angeles Office of Wage Standards.

The claims allege that Cal Cartage Express, which operates out of various locations on the Eastern seaboard and in Southern California, fails to pay Los Angeles’ minimum wage of $13.25 per hour and fails to provide sick-leave days.

In addition, the drivers claim that the company misclassifies them as independent contractors and that the company fails to pay them at least one hour a day, every day. The drivers said they are paid under a piece-rate system that fails to compensate them for such duties as conducting daily inspections, cleaning, making repairs, painting containers, completing paperwork and fueling.

“I have worked exclusively for Cal Cartage Express for the last 10 years, driving 300 miles a day, six days a week, hauling containerized borax to the ports for the company’s biggest customer, Rio Tinto, from Boron, Calif., to the ports,” port truck driver Jesus Maldonado said in a news release from the Teamsters Port Division. “Every day, Cal Cartage directs me to perform work on the property that they lease from the port, and they refuse to pay me for my time.

“That’s wage theft, and it’s a violation of city law. I’m sick and tired of it, so I filed a claim with the city of Los Angeles to make sure I get what I have earned.”

Cal Cartage Express maintains its stance that the drivers are independent contractors.

“Cal Cartage is committed to being a world class partner to every independent contractor we work with,” the company told Land Line in a statement. “The independent contractors who provide services to us are entrepreneurs who have chosen to remain independent business owners instead of becoming employees, as evidenced by their decision not to fill the thousands of employee driver positions that are currently open in southern California. These hard-working men and women want to remain independent and continue to enjoy the flexibility to provide services when and how they please.

“Because of the respect that we have for their desire to remain independent, we will not cave to the Teamsters’ continued attempts, against the will of the drivers, to have these individuals classified as employees so that the Teamsters are able to try to organize them. We will continue to fight this union greed and protect the drivers’ rights to act as their own bosses and make their own business decisions.”

The treatment of port truck drivers has been scrutinized since USA Today published an investigative report in 2017 that claimed some drivers were taking home less than $1 per week.


EPA fines pair of mega-fleet carriers for violating California emissions rules

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.