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For Immediate Release: February 6th, 2012

Community Groups Have Port Truckers' Backs

NEWS RELEASE February 6, 2012  CONTACT: David West, Executive Director, Puget Sound Sage (206) 919-2774

STATEMENT OF COMMUNITY SUPPORT FOR PORT TRUCK DRIVERS

We are a powerful alliance of community, faith, immigrant rights, civil rights and environmental organizations from throughout the Puget Sound area here to bring strong and steadfast support to the Port of Seattle truck drivers refuse to return to work due to unsafe and untenable working conditions.
These drivers transport tens of billions of dollars in manufactured goods every year, generating wealth for our region and are at the fulcrum of our economic recovery.  But they do not share in industry prosperity because the system is fixed against them.  We know they work in sweatshops on wheels, are exploited and unvalued.

Last Monday, over 120 Port drivers traveled to our state legislature to voice support for a bill that would allow drivers the opportunity to inspect corporate-owned equipment attached to the trucks they drive. The proposed legislation would also incentivize these corporations to provide them with safe equipment.  Unfortunately, when these drivers, mostly immigrants, returned to their jobs, they endured intimidation, harassment and retaliation. They were called “animals” by their dispatchers and one of the leaders was suspended from work—punished for organizing the trip to Olympia.

Since then, hundreds of drivers who serve the Port’s largest shipping companies have now refused to return to work in spite of repeated threats from owners.
Port drivers are routinely issued tickets for equipment they do not own or are even allowed to inspect themselves before it is attached to their trucks.  They are not even informed about the contents of their trailers, or the weight of the load.  Yet they are legally and financially responsible for any weight or safety violations.

Meanwhile, port-adjacent communities are filled with these rickety, mechanically unsafe, diesel-spewing rigs, creating a health and environmental crisis.  This has led to spiked asthma and respiratory illnesses among the drivers and among the residents of our Southwest Seattle communities, due to the exposure to high levels of toxic pollutants from these trucks.

The signatory organizations and individuals gathered here today assert that these Port drivers must not be treated as second-class citizens and relegated to working long hours in a dangerous industry, isolated from justice and fairness.  We support their refusal to return to work until this exploitive system is changed.

We are:

  • Calling on all elected officials at the local, state and federal levels to support these drivers in their struggle for basic human and civil rights.  We join the drivers in their demand that their employers, the trucking companies, take responsibility for the maintenance and safety of the equipment they own;
  • Calling on the Port of Seattle to fix this broken and cruel system and create a safer working environment. This taxpayer-funded agency should work to build a trucking industry that allows truckers to earn a decent living and does not exploit low-wage immigrant drivers.  We challenge the Port not to take sides with big shippers and retailers like Wal-Mart who dominate port commerce, which further exploits and harms the drivers; and
  • Calling on the driver’s employers and the shipping companies to negotiate with these workers in good faith for a solution that is economically sustainable and places the burden for safe equipment where it belongs—on the companies that own them. We all deserve our roads to be safe for travel and our communities to be safe to live in.

We stand here today declaring the essential civil and human rights of these drivers. Their struggle is at a confluence of our deeply-held values: worker justice, a clean and safe environment and the right for everyone to have a chance at the American dream.


A. Philip Randolph Institute – Seattle Chapter

Asian Counseling & Referral Service

Asian Pacific American Labor Alliance – Seattle

CASA Latina

Center for a Changing Workforce

Church Council of Greater Seattle

Coalition of Anti-Racist Whites

Community Coalition for Environmental Justice

Community Alliance for Global Justice

Deep Sea Fisherman's Union of the Pacific

El Comité Pro Reforma Migratoria Y Justicia Social

Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR) – WA

Economic Opportunity Institute

Faith Action Network

Fellowship of Reconciliation – Seattle Chapter

Freedom Socialist Party

GCC/IBT Local 767 M

Got Green

Gurdwara Singh Sabha of Washington (Sikh Temple) 

ILWU Local 52

Interfaith Taskforce on Homelessness

IUPAT Local 10

Jessica Finn-Coven

Laborers Local 242

LIUNA – NROC (Laborers)

Low Income Housing Institute

Musicians’ Association of Seattle, Local 76-493

WA State Labor Education and Research Center

Martin Luther King Jr. County Labor Council

Minority Executive Directors Coalition of King County (MEDC)

Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 117

Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 174

Intl. Brotherhood of Teamsters Joint Council 28

El Centro de la Raza

National Asian Pacific American Women’s Forum, Seattle Chapter

Natl. Organization for Women - Seattle Chapter

OneAmerica

Organized Workers for Labor Solidarity

Pierce Co. Central Labor Council

Pride at Work, MLK County Chapter

Puget Sound Alliance for Retired American

Puget Sound Sage

Radical Women

Real Change

Seattle Human Services Coalition

SEIU Local 6

SEIU Healthcare 775NW

Sierra Club

Somali Community Services Coalition

SPEEA IFPTE Local 2001

Statewide Poverty Action Network

Tenants Union of Washington

UNITE HERE Local 8

United Food and Commercial Workers Local 21

United Students Against Sweatshops

Valley and Mountain Fellowship

Washington Community Action Network

Washington Fair Trade Coalition

Washington State Labor Council

WA Young Emerging Labor Leaders

WA State Alliance for Retired Americans

Working Washington

Bruce Harrell, Seattle City Councilmember

Sally Clark, Seattle City Councilmember

Mike O'Brien, Seattle City Councilmember

Nick Licata, Seattle City Council Member

Jean Godden, Seattle City Council Member

Joe McDermott, King County Council Member

Julia Patterson, King County Council Member

Larry Gossett, King County Council Member

Zack Hudgins, 11th District State Representative