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Port Drivers Return To Work After Firms Promise Labor Talks

LOS ANGELES ( — Port drivers ended their picketing Friday against a pair of trucking companies serving Los Angeles and Long Beach ports and rail yards after the firms agreed to begin negotiating with drivers to resolve ongoing labor disagreements.

The drivers, assisted by the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, have been picketing since Tuesday. They say their employers, Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport, misclassified them as independent contractors when they should have been paid as full employees.

The picket lines were dispersed and drivers returned to work Friday morning after Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport officials promised to "continue discussions to resolve outstanding issues between them."

The talks will be confidential and the company "respects its drivers' right to demonstrate and there will be no retaliation," according to statements from the two companies.

Port driver Fidel Gonzalez, who works for Harbor Rail Transport, said their strikes against the drayage industry and his employer showed "that when drivers come together, nothing can stop us."

"We are asserting our rights as employees and we won't stop until we get them," he said.

Humberto Canales, a driver for Pacer Cartage, said their picketing showed his employer and others "that we aren't going to take it anymore," and said the "days of driver misclassification are numbered" thanks to recent court rulings that sided with the drivers.

Port drivers in recent days and weeks also ended strikes against six other trucking companies serving the Los Angeles and Long Beach ports, after the promise of similar talks were made. These previous agreements were brokered by Mayor Eric Garcetti.

(©2014 CBS Local Media, a division of CBS Radio Inc. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. Wire services contributed to this report.)

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