Stakeholders at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, the country's largest port complex, today announced the launch of an intermodal trucking company composed of all company-employee drivers and controlled by a local logistics concern.
The new company, Eco Flow Transportation LLC, said it plans to make employees out of all its drayage drivers and will not rely on the traditional independent-contractor model that has held sway for decades at major U.S. ports. Eco Flow is owned by Saybrook Logistics, which also controls Total Transportation Services Inc. (TTSI), a Rancho Dominguez, Calif.-based drayage company with nationwide operations.
Eco Flow, which began operations last month, has 80 employee drivers so far, according to a statement issued today by the company and by the Teamsters Union, which is interested in representing drivers at the company. Eco Flow expects to have 500 employee drivers in the fold within the next 12 months, according to the statement. The company said it is remaining neutral about the prospects for union representation.
The formation of Eco Flow came out of an agreement between TTSI and the Teamsters that was brokered by Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti. One of the goals of the compact was to "hire all drivers as employees" rather than use them as contractors, according to the statement.
Last week, drivers working for four drayage firms that operate at the complex briefly struck the companies in a dispute over their job classification. The drivers eventually went back to work. Many port drivers chafe at their contractor status, arguing that they should be classified as employees of the companies for which they do most of their work.
Nowhere is the angst more acute than at the southern California port complex, where high operating costs and congestion-related delays make it difficult for independent operators to earn what they consider to be a decent living.
"Drayage trucking needs to adapt to the changing trends in goods movement, and this new company model is symbolic of that needed change," Eco Flow and Saybrook chairman Jonathan Rosenthal said in the statement.