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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Driven to Poverty: Misclassification & Wage Theft in Southern California’s Short Haul Trucking Industry


This brief examines the history regulation and organizing short-haul trucking at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. During a long period of high union density and strong regulation, short haul truck-driving grew into a desirable blue-collar occupation. However, deregulation during the 1970s and 1980s incentivized trucking companies to shift their workforces to owner-operator truckers in response to competitive pressures. Amplified by rampant misclassification, this arrangement shifts risks and costs onto drivers while exempting them from labor protections and the ability to form a union. Wage theft in the form of lengthy and uncompensated wait times is also common. The brief concludes with a consideration of the applicability of model legislation from other states to the particularly acute issues faced by California's short-haul truckers. 

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