This afternoon about 100 port drivers will return to their jobs after staging a 36-hour walkout. The unfair labor practices strike, which was supported by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 848, was called to protest what drivers say is employer retaliation for trying to organize a union. The companies targeted in and around Carson were Green Fleet Systems, Pac 9 Transportation and American Logistics International. The drivers claim they’ve been intimidated and harassed for their organizing efforts – employer actions that are against U.S. labor law.
In addition to the retaliation allegations lodged with the National Labor Relations Board, wage-theft charges have been filed with the state against Pac 9 for misclassifying its employee drivers as “independent contractors” – a ploy that has allegedly allowed the company to deduct its business expenses from the drivers’ salaries.
The striking port drivers did not walk the line alone – Teamsters from the Toll Group,
It is 3 p.m., June 27, 2013 and I find myself walking on the sidewalk along Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach. Just like any other day in Southern California, the skies are blue, the sun is bright gold and the owners of new BMWs, Mercedes Benzes and Maseratis speed down the highway without a care in the world. Unlike any other day, I find myself among a delegation of community members, clergy, reporters and union representatives in support of Joe Dickson and his co-workers.
We march towards the elegant Newport Beach Balboa Bay Country Club to speak with Alireza Mahdavi before he gives a speech to a group of investors and financiers at a convention. We certainly did not pay $900 to have some alone time with the CEO of American Logistics International; I don’t think any of us have that kind of money to spend on a chicken dinner alone.
The issues of immigration and workers’ rights are inextricably linked, as seen in the participation of 30 L.A. labor unions in today’s Citizenship Caravan to Bakersfield. The unions are joining organizations from all over California to call for immigration reform with a path to citizenship.
A less widely known example of this link is an obscure immigration program that is being used by irresponsible companies in ways probably not envisioned by the government. One of those companies is located here in Southern California and is locked in a labor dispute with its employees.
The EB-5 investor program connects wealthy immigrants with U.S. businesses seeking capital. Run by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services agency (USCIS), its stated purpose is to “stimulate the U.S. economy through job creation and capital investment by foreign investors.”
In exchange for a million-dollar investment (only half a million if the business is located in a high-unemployment area) USCIS grants the investor a green card if they can prove that their investment created at least 10 jobs.