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Senators demand retailers crack down on port trucking operations

Excerpts from Freight Waves:

The USA Today investigation into port trucking operations in California set off a firestorm of controversy – ranging from how dare trucking companies take advantage of hard-working drivers to views that the article misrepresented not only port truckers, but trucking companies in general.

Just when it seemed the controversy had subsided, enter Congress. U.S. Senators including Elizabeth Warren, Sherrod Brown, Dianne Feinstein, and Kamala Harris sent letters to 16 national retail brands demanding they crack down on the practices detailed in the article, “Rigged,” that was published on June 16.

The investigative article talked to truck drivers in the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, and painted a picture of a system that is designed to take advantage of the drivers. The article covered everything from pay that at times doesn’t meet minimum wage, long waits with little or no compensation, forced violations of hours-of-service rules, and onerous lease payments for mandated newer trucks that the companies couldn’t wait to repossess the moment the driver missed a payment.

The Senators’ letters demand answers from the retailers by Aug. 14. The legislators want to know whether the retailers, which include Walmart, Target and Costco, were aware of any complaints prior to publication of the USA Today story; what actions the companies have taken to rid their supply chain of worker abuses; whether the retailers will cancel contracts with port trucking companies that “require their employees to participate in abusive lease-to-own truck programs or that have violated state or federal safety standards and worker protections;” and will they publicly demand higher standards among port trucking companies?

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