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Rigged system rips off port truckers

Many U.S. consumers care deeply about the way their products are made. Some insist on buying American; others press corporations for codes of conduct that forbid sweatshops in foreign lands.

But what many might not know is that some highly deplorable conditions exist right here in America, in the transport of goods rather than their manufacture.

A huge volume of the nation's imports arrive by container ship in Southern California, where short-haul truckers take the merchandise to nearby rail yards or storage depots, a key step in the goods' journey to some of the nation's leading retail stores. A year-long investigation by the USA TODAY Network found that a good chunk of the port trucking industry relies heavily on a modern-day form of indentured servitude.

The abuse starts when a trucking company pressures its drivers to sign lease-to-own contracts on their tractor-trailer rigs. Often, these drivers speak little English and do not understand what they are getting into.

Once under contract and in debt, these short-haul drivers are at the mercy of the companies they’ve signed on with. The truckers can work days on end without making enough to cover expenses the companies charge them. If they complain, they are fired or given less profitable routes.

This exploitation proceeds — until a driver gets sick or has expensive repair bills. Those who can’t make their payments lose their rig, and with it any equity they might have built up over several years of slaving away.

Network reporter Brett Murphy documented hundreds of cases like this at Los Angeles ports since 2010, including 1,150 instances in which drivers had filed formal complaints, 140 trucking companies that had been accused by at least one driver of shorting drivers on pay, and more than 120 cases in which drivers said they worked 12 to 20 hours at a time, in violation of federal highway safety laws.

Source of article click here : USA Today


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