Winter 2016

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62 CINEMONTAGE / Q1 2016 compiled by Jeff Burman A port trucking firm in Carson serving shippers in the Los Angeles/San Pedro area has been ordered to turn over nearly $7 million in back pay to 37 drivers, a win for port drivers and the Teamsters union that has been trying to organize them, writes James Rufus Koren in The Los Angeles Times. The state Labor Commissioner's Office ruled in December that the drivers at Pacific 9 Transportation were improperly deemed independent contractors rather than treated as employees. It ordered the company to compensate drivers for illegal paycheck deductions, back wages and legal costs. The average driver received over $187,000. Though the decision affects just a fraction of the nearly 12,000 drivers who haul cargo at the LA ports, the order illustrates that labor organizers are having some success using employee classification claims to push trucking firms to treat drivers as employees — who, unlike contractors, are allowed to unionize. Labor Commissioner Julie Su said 720 truck drivers have filed complaints with her office since 2012, adds Koren. The office has ruled in three cases affecting more than 100 drivers since July. "In this industry, we have found misclassification routinely in the cases we've heard," she said. In its Pacific 9 ruling, the commission said independent contractor agreements signed by drivers "often amount to a subterfuge to avoid paying payroll taxes, income taxes and workers compensation liability." Most of the payouts ordered by the commission relate to Pacific 9 deductions from drivers' paychecks to cover truck lease payments, insurance, maintenance and other out-of-pocket costs. The commission also found that drivers sometimes earned less than the minimum wage and ordered Pacific 9 to pay back wages to cover the difference. SANDERS PLANS TAX-DODGING PREVENTION ACT Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders' corporate tax reform plan was placed on Sanders' website in early December, according to an unsigned essay in The Daily Kos. Sanders' plan hews closely to Senator Elizabeth Warren's Principles for Corporate Tax Reform. To summarize: "1) Increase the share of revenue that corporations pay. Any revenue neutral plan leaves the country with too little money to fund basic services. "2) Level the playing field between small and big businesses. The business tax code is rigged against small businesses, making it harder for them to compete. "3) Promote investment and jobs in the US. Lowering tax rates and loopholes for hiding profits overseas encourages more outsourcing of jobs and investment." Sanders will roll out a $1 trillion infrastructure proposal, called the "Corporate Tax-Dodging Prevention Act," that he introduced in the Senate before his presidential run. The bill would: "1) End the rule allowing American corporations to defer paying federal income taxes on profits of their offshore subsidiaries." This would quickly bring in up to $620 billion of federal tax revenue currently owed on "offshore" profits but deferred. It would also make more than $2 trillion of corporate profits that have been kept offshore accessible. These funds could be reinvested or distributed to shareholders. This would increase LABOR MAT TERS Port of LA Drivers Win Millions in Back Pay

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