The ripple effects of labor strikes


Alessandra Arroyo

A striking truck sits on the grass instead of delivering goods.

Have you ever wondered about the cause and effect of labor strikes? Who causes the strikes and how those strikes can affect the whole nation? You would be surprised by just how powerful a strike with port workers, railroad workers, and even truckers could affect the economy.

A union is an organized group of workers who come together to make decisions. A strike is a work stoppage or a slowdown of work by employees and is endorsed by the union. Strikes affect both workers and consumers. It affects workers as they won’t be able to bring money to the table for their families and it affects consumers that buy the products that are dependent on the companies because they won’t be able to get basic necessities, like food, bottled water, etc.

One factor that plays a role in workers’ lives is how new laws change the power that employers or employees have to control their working conditions.

An example of a law that some truckers feel doesn’t support them would be the California AB5 law which was introduced by Assemblywoman Lorena Gonzalez. This law made it harder for independent contractors to do their job. The law restricts the capability of employees to be considered contractors rather than employees.

Because of the AB5 law, if a trucker is an independent contractor, the company that they will work for will have control over them and their things. A company would also have control of a truck that a trucker has bought themselves and could control who is able to drive the truck.

Truck driver Gordon Wiebe disagrees with the AB5 law because it affects independent contractors.

“If this law isn’t changed it means that they have to become company drivers even though they own their own truck which means that the company now can control who drives the truck even though they don’t actually own the truck,” said Wiebe.

Wiebe thinks the law is not useful.

“My opinion on the law is that there really is no need for it because the industry needs independent contractors because it cuts costs for the companies because they don’t have expenses that come with owning a fleet of trucks,” he said.

The strike with the truckers was a result of that law. This strike has been going on and off for about two years and truckers are hoping for more money on the loads they deliver.

Along with that, truckers also have to deal with high gas prices and because of the pay that they are earning, it mainly pays off the gas to the point there is little to no money left for their well-being.

Trucker Janet Barragan believes truckers should be paid more because of the rising gas prices.

“The brokers and companies don’t want to pay for truckers. They also don’t want to pay more money to truckers because of the gas prices in which we are basically doing loads for free,” said Barragan.

This is another problem with the trucking industry because if brokers and companies don’t want to pay for truckers how can we get our produce or home goods?

Unlike longshoremen and railroad workers, truckers aren’t in a union.

Truckers are trying to establish a union that benefits them because it establishes that the workers will have rights.

If truckers were to be part of a union they would have a voice and would be able to fight for their rights as truckers because of the union. The union would have the truckers’ backs.

Depending on the rules that the union comes up with, that will determine their pay. If a company were to not follow the rules that the union has placed, the truckers would be able to call them out on it.

There is a difference between independent contractors and a union. Within a union, they have their candidates that are nominated by the workers every two years. These nominees are who stand as a voice against global politicians to negotiate with what the people are asking for.

“The reason a lot of drivers like to be independent contractors is that it gives them the freedom to change companies if it isn’t working for them for whatever reason at the company they are leased to currently,” said Wiebe.

When negotiations are not met, a strike is caused.