Teamsters aren't answer at Port
Regarding Jessica Leigh Lebos' article on port truckers:
I have been in trucking for 21 years and owned my own equipment for over five years. I enjoy the independent status and gladly pay the 15% Surcharge to the IRS. Now I'm hearing the Teamsters are attempting to take over the Port of Savannah and Charleston. They claim that after 21 years I have been "misclassified" and I should be considered an employee.
So I did a little research in California and found out what being reclassified as an employee can and will do to the local economy here.
The Teamsters are attempting to rally members using the "misclassification" status, then they will pull out the Obama Energy Bill. When that action gets phased in, all the contractors who have older model equipment will be forced out of a job because their trucks will be denied access to the Georgia Port Authority. Agents and motor carriers will be forced to pull out of Savannah and maybe the whole state.
The ones left behind who could afford these $16,8000 state-of-the-art "green" equipment will want their money back quick so they will probably lease the equipment back to a driver, making the driver work to make weekly payments. That's gonna be hard to do considering the driver is now listed as an employee and getting employee pay.
Businesses surrounding the independent contractor industry will be forced to close because older model trucks aren't running the area anymore. Food cart vendors will lose revenue because there is no more workers to purchase lunch. Warehouses will be forced to close because they can't find trucks to take their freight into the ports.
My suggestion to drivers and contractors who are working for low wages is simple. Move the equipment to a more lucrative line of work. Over the last five years, many independant contractors like myself have fought hard to maintain a low CSA Score and only lease equipment onto a carrier or agent who also has a low CSA Score. In doing this, we have been able to score higher rates hauling freight. We maintain our older model equipment and encourage other independent contractors to come work with us if their CSA Score is low, too.
Many are quick to want to unionize, thinking the Teamsters are going to fix their equipment and pay them all top dollar. This to me is a wrong approach to a problem situation. Independent contractors need to band together again and realize the situation.
The Teamsters are not the solution but an end to your port profession.Joe Meyers
Port 'corruption' is problem
I was the Savannah trucker hauling containers back in 1999 that was subpoenaed by U.S. Federal Trade Commission. Six of us from around the country belonging to several small trucking organizations had been working together causing ports, trucking companies, and ocean shipping companies a huge headache with our sporadic disruptions at specific port terminals.
There are many here in this harbor who don't heed that lesson so they drive in a continuous circle of self destruction. By that I mean many drivers bring the problem on themselves by not saying "NO" to low-ball hauls and meaning it.
I don't haul cheap freight. Never have, never will, I'll park the truck first. There are too many jobs out here to keep one's self busy without working for bread crumbs making some trucking company manager or their agent wealthy.
However, the union is not a good fit for every trucker in Savannah. There are many ways real change could come about in this industry but the mission these organizing folk are on is misguided.
For those who don't want to own a truck, the Teamsters may be a great choice. But let's not take away the choice of the drivers who wish to become an entrepreneur in this business. Instead let's find better ways to help clean up some of the rampant corruption that's plagued the Savannah Port for over 25 years.Jim Stewart
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