The Teamsters say they won’t open more hiring halls for owner-operators until the initial carriers sign contracts with union labor, but the union in the meantime is investigating carriers that may have violated federal leasing laws or made illegal deductions from contractors’ paychecks.
Since September, the union has opened owner-operator hiring halls in Charleston, S.C.; Savannah, Ga.; and Miami, says Jim Stewart, international representative for the Teamsters’ port division. Miami was the first to open and has more than 700 members, 99 percent of them owner-operators.
But the Teamsters will not proceed with plans to open the halls at additional water and rail ports until the first carriers sign contracts with the union, Stewart says. “Right now, trucking companies are like drivers,” Stewart says. “They don’t want to be the first one to do something.”
The union also is working with the Savannah law firm Carter & Tate and law firms in Miami and Norfolk, Va., to investigate owner-operator claims that carriers made illegal deductions or violated truth-in-leasing laws. Some carriers have told owner-operators to seek work elsewhere if they don’t comply with a deduction, Stewart said. Truth-in-leasing laws have been the focus of various suits filed in recent years by the Owner-Operator Independent Drivers Association.