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More than two dozen owner-operator truck drivers are suing six container terminals or their affiliates in Los Angeles-Long Beach, charging that the terminals blocked their entry to the facilities during Teamsters demonstrations in the harbor this summer in order to ensure peace with the union.
The Teamsters allegedly told the terminal operators that if they denied access to the 31 owner-operators who opposed Teamsters’ efforts to unionize drayage drivers, the union would agree not to picket those marine terminals, according to the suit filed Monday with the Superior Court of California in Los Angeles. The terminals allegedly allowed pro-unionization drivers from the same two or three trucking companies to access the facilities while blocking access to the drivers who didn’t want to be unionized.
“Plaintiffs are informed and believe that the Teamsters together with the defendant terminals conspired and continue to conspire to destroy the businesses of the plaintiff owner-operator drivers who for periods of up to three days were denied access to defendants’ terminals and therefore were denied his/her constitutional rights to earn a living,” the lawsuit stated.
The suit asks the court to assess a civil penalty of $2,500 against each terminal, an additional civil penalty for conspiracy against trade of $1 million against each terminal, and not less than $120,000 for economic and non-economic damages. The suit also seeks an order preventing the terminals from committing further acts of unfair competition. The complaint identified about 500 container moves the owner-operators were denied during the Teamsters’ job actions that took place in Los Angeles-Long Beach from June through October.
Attorney Jewels Jin said Thursday in an interview the suit does not include the Teamsters, but she may add the union as a defendant at a future date. Fred Potter, vice president of Teamsters, released the following statement, “We haven’t seen the lawsuit but understand it alleges collusion between the Teamsters and terminal operators. Nothing could be further from the truth.”
The lawsuit sheds light on the complex conditions of harbor trucking not only in the largest US port complex, but at container ports across the nation. When trucking in the United States was deregulated in 1980, it evolved relatively quickly from an industry dominated by employee drivers, many of whom belonged to the Teamsters union, to a business model that relies upon independent-contractor drivers. By law, independent contractors in any industry can not be unionized.
For much of the past decade, the Teamsters have focused their harbor activities on getting drayage companies to operate on the employee model and to hire the owner-operators as direct employees. The Teamsters would then be free to attempt to organize the drivers.
The situation is complex because at many drayage companies some of the drivers want to be unionized because of the stable pay and benefits that come from employee status, but others prefer being owner-operators and say they can actually earn more money as independent contractors. Harbor trucking companies, even those that favor the owner-operator model, have maintained over the years that the most important element at work in the harbor should be freedom of choice for the drivers, without any “bullying” involved.
“These legal actions prove the will of drivers to be independent contractors is strong,” said Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association, which represents about 100 drayage companies in Southern California. “These guys want to have their rights to work as independent contractors and to not be forced into a unionized employee role,” he said.
Marine terminal operators are caught up in the struggle involving trucking companies, the Teamsters, those drivers who want to be unionized, and those who want to remain independent.
That struggle often plays out in front of terminal gates, where the Teamsters for months have been conducting random “strikes” against whichever of the hundreds of Los Angeles-Long Beach trucking companies they are targeting.
The Teamsters usually target only two or three trucking companies at a time, and those companies account for only 100 to 200 truck moves per day at a terminal that may regularly do 3,000 gate transactions each day.
Therefore, when the Teamsters bring their picketing to the terminal gates, operations slow down and yard congestion increases, and this can quickly spread to the vessel-unloading operations.
The terminal operators say they are innocent third-party victims of a labor dispute that involves the Teamsters, trucking companies, and drivers, none of whom the terminals employ or have contracts with.
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Ten (10) years of marriage is deemed a long-term marriage that spousal support will generally be awarded to the lower income earner based on the parties' "standard of living" during the last three years of marriage. Still, the higher earner can request the court to impute income on the lower earner through a vocational expert therapist and also request for a Gavron warning. A Gavron warning places the burden on the supported party to actively seek employment to become self-sufficient.
California is a community property state. All property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be equally "earned" between husband and wife unless acquired through gift or inheritance.
Both parents have equal rights to their child(red) with the "best interest of the child" being the driving force. The stereotype that a mother is the better fit parent is not dispositive in the courts of California.
Hundreds, if not up to 1,000 DUI convictions, could be overturned in San Francisco because of how police improperly handled devices that measure blood alcohol levels in an individual during a DUI arrest. At issue is how police conducted accuracy checks on Preliminary Alcohol Screening (PAS) devices used to determine an individual’s blood alcohol level in the field.
The most common PAS device used by law enforcement today is a handheld breathalyzer called the Alco-Sensor IV. An individual suspected of driving under the influence is not required to take the PAS breath test, but a police officer will almost always ask the suspect to voluntarily submit to the test. These handheld breath test devices can produce much less accurate results than the kind of evidentiary blood alcohol tests a person is required to submit to once they have been arrested for driving under the influence. Additionally, according to Title 17 of the California Code of Regulations, these handheld breath-testing devices are considered field sobriety tests that are intended simply to establish probable cause to arrest someone for DUI. According to the law, these PAS devices should not be used in court as evidence of someone’s actual blood alcohol content. Unfortunately though, the results of these handheld breath tests often are allowed to be used against a defendant in court to prove they were driving with .08 or greater blood alcohol content or to prove the person was intoxicated.
In order to ensure that these handheld breath-testing devices are producing accurate readings, law enforcement agencies using them are required to conduct frequent accuracy checks of the instruments. These accuracy checks are done by introducing an alcohol based solution (commonly a solution comprised of .1 percent alcohol by volume) into the machine during a test period. If the reading produced from the device varies by + or - .01 from the alcohol content of the testing solution, then this will indicate the machine is not accurate according to law and needs to be recalibrated.
In January, several attorneys for the San Francisco Public Defender’s Office noticed that some of the accuracy test logs for the PAS devices listed readings that exactly matched the alcohol solution being used during testing. Both the District Attorney of San Francisco and the Public Defender agree that at least some of the tests should have yielded results that varied at least by small amounts from the testing solution. These “on the number results” suggest that accuracy tests on the handheld breath-testing devices may have been faked. The fact that these breath-testing devices may not have been properly calibrated casts doubt on any DUI arrest they were used in and could result in up to 1,000 DUI convictions being overturned.
The failure to properly calibrate the breath-testing devices in San Francisco highlights the danger suspected drunk drivers in California face of being wrongfully convicted. If you are charged with a DUI, the evidence against you may seem insurmountable, but this is often not the case. Law Enforcement’s failure to follow strict guidelines set out by law during a DUI arrest can be used to strengthen your case and result in less severe charges being brought against you or even outright dismissal. The harsh penalties associated with a DUI conviction can be minimized and sometimes completely eliminated when a skilled and experienced DUI attorney is handling your case.
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