Port truck drivers claim unfair work conditions and pay

Published: May. 30, 2013 at 10:55 PM EDT|Updated: Jun. 29, 2013 at 11:41 PM EDT
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SAVANNAH, GA (WTOC) - Savannah's port truck driver's are taking a stand this weekend against their bosses for what they call unfair work conditions.

On Thursday, WTOC got both sides of the issue as we spoke with a truck driver and his boss about the issue.

The drivers and their union, the Teamsters, say they are unlawfully classified as "independent contractors" by the trucking companies. They say low wages, high operating costs, "dangerously" long hours are just part of the equation drivers deal with.

The trucking company we spoke to, C&K Trucking, said they can see some of those points, but some of it is partly the fault of how the port operates, blaming a system which is slow by nature and causes lag times and delays drivers.

WTOC met with port truck driver "Big" Mike Alleyne, who's been driving for C&K Trucking for several years. He says he's not paid enough to maintain his truck, the equipment he has isn't good and he feels it's about time the company be mandated to pay health benefits for drivers. Under the independent contractor label, he says they don't have to.

In Los Angeles, Seattle and New Jersey, they've seen driver walk-outs, lawsuits and new legislation in response to what the union calls a national problem.

For "Big" Mike, he says it's a family problem when he ends up paying for things he feels his employer should be paying for.

"Everything falls on us. If we get a ticket, it falls on us. If it's equipment, it falls on us. We're responsible for our own insurance. We don't have any backing really," Alleyne told WTOC.

Some people we spoke to say the truckers know the job, know what they signed up for. Can there be change? The Teamsters union and the truckers are holding a forum this Saturday morning at 11 a.m. at the Coastal Georgia Center on Fahm Street with a panel of city, county and state elected officials and community members to hear both sides of the issue.

WTOC's Don Logana will be moderating the discussion.

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