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No work for locals

November 15, 2010

San Francisco truckers surround Transbay Terminal and City Hall demanding access to stimulus jobs

by Darnisha Wright

San Francisco — More than 20 Bay Area truckers are surrounding the Transbay Terminal and Francisco City Hall at 7 a.m. Monday demanding access to the trucking work underway right now as part of the local federal stimulus projects. While President Obama has released the National Economic Recovery Plan on jobs and unemployment, Bay Area locals and/or San Francisco City certified local construction truckers are being shut out and are not hired for stimulus funded jobs by local practices and a Japanese prime contractor.

Black truckers deserve the opportunity to earn the legally mandated prevailing wage on San Francisco City jobs like the Transbay Terminal and haul enough dirt to invest in a nice new rig like this. Not long ago, Black truckers predominated in San Francisco and greatly contributed to the economic health of the community, but in recent years, they've been pushed out. Now they're fighting back.
“We want our jobs! Why should we sit back and allow our work to be dispatched by someone outside of San Francisco who then dispatches trucks from Concord, Petaluma, Novato and everywhere else?” said Charlie Walker. “At ALL costs, if we have to, we will shut down the federal stimulus dollar ‘water fountain’ from Washington, D.C., and will bring national attention to this theft!”

In addition to the lack of local hiring, the truckers are also protesting the City practice of undercutting the prevailing wage agreement for the work. The trucking industry is covered by a prevailing wage agreement that allows truckers to earn enough to cover the high costs connected to working in this industry.

Hourly prevailing wage rates are mandated by federal, city and state employment laws. The City is maneuvering to undercut this wage agreement by paying workers “per load” or “tonnage rates” rather than “per hour.”

“The outside trucks are coming into San Francisco and taking our work and cutting the rates. Diesel prices continue to rise, currently at $3.40 per gallon,” said local owner-operator John Kehoe of Erin Trucking.

“We live and operate in San Francisco and live with a much higher cost base. Local and certified to do business in the City and County of San Francisco, we deserve a fair chance at an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay.”

In a recent meeting with the Metropolitan Transportation Commission, the organizers of this protest were flatly opposed and offered no support in this dilemma.

The City of San Francisco has been allowing these “large and super-large” non-City certified, non-minority construction trucking companies to come in and cut the rates to $60-$80 per load or tonnage rate, rather than the Department of Transportation and Teamsters driver/operator and hourly equipment rental rate.

Between 1980 and 2004, real wages fell 1 percent, while real income of the richest 1 percent rose 135 percent. Organizers of this shut-down are protesting these “large and super-large” non-City certified, non-minority owned construction trucking operations.

A new mandatory local hire ordinance sponsored by Supervisor John Avalos is under review by the San Francisco Board of Supervisors and supported by local organizations such as the Osiris Coalition, but we will not be waiting for that ordinance to pass! WE want work NOW!

“In every crisis there is opportunity,” said Bay Area trucker LaVaughan Moore. “Now is the time to reverse Wall Street policies and reinvest in our nation’s distressed communities to secure dispatch for our LOCAL micro and small construction trucking businesses. By paying per load rather than per hour, the City of San Francisco is undercutting the prevailing wage and exploiting workers.

“If Washington, D.C. wants to know what San Franciscans want this Christmas, we are here to say, ‘We want our jobs!’”

Darnisha Wright can be reached at darnishawright@yahoo.com.

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