BURLINGTON, Vt., Nov. 10 – U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) called on President Donald Trump Friday to sign an executive order ending the exploitation and abuse of port truck drivers. Sanders’ request comes after he met with Los Angeles port truckers to discuss the exploitative labor practices exposed by USA Today.
“The federal government should not be rewarding trucking companies that exploit and abuse their own workers,” Sanders wrote in a letter to Trump. “If you are serious about your support for our nation’s truck drivers, I would urge you to sign an executive order to deny government contracts and subcontracts for trucking companies that misclassify workers as independent contractors, force workers to lease the trucks they drive, and engage in other abusive labor practices.”
“Truck drivers are the backbone of the American economy. They deserve to be treated with respect and dignity, not like modern-day indentured servants,” Sanders added.
Trucking companies are misclassifying drivers as independent contractors, requiring them to lease their own trucks and trapping them in a viscous cycle of debt. Companies are using this debt as leverage to force drivers into working long hours for starvation wages. At the end of the month, some workers end up owing more on the lease than their paycheck is worth forcing them to essentially work for free.
Sanders also called on Trump “to direct the Labor Department to conduct an audit of all federal contracts and subcontracts awarded to port trucking companies to ensure sure that they are in compliance with the prevailing wage and labor requirements of the McNamara - O’Hara Service Contract Act. Those companies that are not in compliance with our nation’s labor laws should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law and required to pay back wages to their workers so that they receive all of the benefits they are legally entitled to receive.