Some background: Of the approximately 12,000 port truck drivers in Southern California – about 110,000 nationwide – the overwhelming majority are improperly classified as “independent contractors.” This has dramatic repercussions, as these low-income, mostly immigrant drivers are thereby denied basic workplace rights and protections: no minimum wage or overtime or OSHA protections, no disability or workers comp or unemployment insurance, no legal right to organize a union.
Jon Zerolnick is Research Director at the LA Alliance for a New Economy (LAANE). Jon is most comfortable working with facts, theory and numbers, which is why he is a researcher. His focus at LAANE has been on the environmental and economic impacts of port trucking, and in the course of this work he has authored reports including The Road to Shared Prosperity and Foreclosure on Wheels. Prior to joining LAANE, Jon salted, organized and researched in the labor movement for a decade, with the bulk of that time spent researching industries including hotel/casinos, agriculture and airport services. For pay, Jon has also waited tables, washed dishes, built minivans, worked retail, taught undergraduates, cleaned floors, tested drugs, sold knives and dealt poker. He has been a member, variously, of the unions HERE, UAW, CWA and IWW. A case study in the failure of U.S. labor law, Jon was illegally fired for union activity in 1997 (the case was not settled until 2005).