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USA TODAY Investigation Part 2: Retail Companies Enable Port Trucker Exploitation


Posted on behalf of D'Amico & Pettinicchi, LLC on Jul 03, 2017 in Wrongful Death

truck driver keeping track of hoursA recent USA TODAY Network investigation revealed widespread abuse of port truckers, who transport goods short distances from Southern California ports to warehouses where they are stored before being transported to stores throughout the country.

The investigation uncovered that many of America’s favorite brands, including Target, LG, Costco and Hewlett-Packard, have done nothing to help stop the exploitation of the truck drivers who transport their goods and are often forced to work up to 20 hours a day for minimal pay.

This dangerous work environment pushes truckers to work beyond the point of exhaustion and can significantly increase the risk of a truck crash. Those who are injured in crashes involving fatigued drivers should contact our Watertown truck crash attorneys to learn more about their legal options.

Widespread Exploitation

Part one of USA TODAY’s report revealed that at least 140 trucking companies in Southern California have been accused of improperly labeling workers as independent contractors and billing them for their own work equipment.

By giving truckers no choice but to sign lease-to-own contracts for their trucks, the companies have swindled drivers into hundreds of thousands of dollars of debt to their own employers.

Forced to pay for their lease, insurance and other fees from each paycheck, many drivers receive almost nothing at the end of the week and some have even owed money, despite working nearly 20 hours.

More than 1,100 drivers have filed complaints with the California Department of Industrial Relations’ labor commission.

However, the retailers whose goods are being moved by these workers have turned a blind eye to this extreme labor abuse.

Turning a Blind Eye

Many of the 24 companies contacted by USA TODAY declined to comment on the story, sent blanket statements about their corporate responsibility policies or stated their support for the “well-being of workers” throughout their supply chains.

Investigators found that Goodyear is the only company that took any action in response to the allegations of abuse. The company’s spokesperson said it dropped Pacific 9 in 2015 within weeks of the California labor commission’s ruling in favor of dozens of workers who had filed complaints against the company.

Most retailers do not consider the situation their problem. USA TODAY notes that this is because there is no law requiring retailers to monitor their vendors or the subcontractors they hire. Many retailers pay little attention to who their direct vendors hire and what their business practices are.

However, some retailers have publicly touted the benefits of the lease-to-own contracts. The most outspoken of which was Target, the country’s second-largest importer of container goods, who heralded the concept as a mutually beneficial and efficient arrangement.

At the time, USA TODAY notes that 44 drivers had filed complaints against Total Transportation, which moved goods for Target and other retail giants.

Double Standard

USA TODAY considers the treatment of port truckers as a double standard, given the millions of dollars these companies have spent in cleaning up their overseas vendors to prevent slave labor, sweatshops, child labor and debt-driven schemes.

In their own country, however, these companies have not held trucking companies to the same standard and some have spent millions on efforts to stop industry changes that could protect truckers.

Contact D’Amico & Pettinicchi

This widespread abuse of truckers has caused many to work long hours, well past the federal limits on hours of service, to meet the demands of the lease-to-own contracts. When drivers push themselves to work past their limits, they are more likely to be involved in a crash.

If you have been injured in an accident involving an overworked truck driver, do not hesitate to contact our experienced Watertown personal injury lawyers. We can advise you of your legal options.

Call (866) 848-7077 for a free, no obligation consultation.