Article Feature By: AJOT

PORT OF LOS ANGELES/LONG BEACH, CA – 10 California port truck drivers who haul cargo for Best Buy, Puma, and Lowe’s have been awarded more than $1.2 million by the California Labor Commissioner for wage theft due to misclassification as independent contractors. Specifically, the decision orders K&R Transportation, which was purchased by NFI Industries in 2017, to pay the drivers for unpaid wages, unpaid meal and rest breaks, and illegal paycheck deductions based on claims filed in 2017. The company has until April 25, 2019, to either appeal or pay the drivers the amounts owed; if they do neither, then the decisions will become final judgments. If final judgments go unpaid, K&R’s customers could be held liable for future claims under California’s new joint liability law, Senate Bill 1402.

Hector Zelaya, a K&R Transportation driver who was featured in a story in The Nation in August 2018, is one of the ten drivers to receive news that justice has been served on Friday:

“We are sick and tired of these companies taking advantage of hard-working drivers like those at K&R Transportation,” said Eric Tate, Principal Office of Teamsters Local 848, which now represents more than 500 port truck drivers who have successfully secured their employee rights. “The Labor Commissioner’s award will provide temporary relief to these ten families who have suffered from wage theft; however, K&R Transportation – like NFI’s other port truck companies – continues to illegally classify it’s drivers as ‘independent contractors’ and we are doing everything in our power to let retailers like Puma, Lowe’s, and Best Buy know that they’ll be held liable unless they move their business to companies that are following U.S. tax and labor laws.”

“It is reprehensible that retailers like Lowe’s continue to do business with law-breaking companies that take advantage of vulnerable immigrant port truck drivers by misclassifying them as independent contractors, stealing their wages, and denying them safe meal and rest breaks,” said Myron Wollin, President of the Long Beach Gray Panthers. “These retailers need to step up and take strong action to assure that the law breaking will not be tolerated.”