Truckers Carrying Goods for Forever 21 and Wal-Mart Go on Strike

Illustration for article titled Truckers Carrying Goods for Forever 21 and Wal-Mart Go on Strike

The truckers that carry goods for companies like Sketchers, Forever 21 and Wal-Mart are striking Monday in Los Angeles, alleging that they've been punished by their trucking companies for organizing, just the latest in the continually bad press bogging down the beautiful visages of some of the most popular retail companies in America.

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Striking truckers told Salon that since many of them work as independent contractors for companies Green Fleet Systems, American Logistics International and Pac 9, they're left with few rights and protections as far as workplace issues are concerned. "Like employees, they tell us where to go – we can't negotiate on many things," one told Salon, explaining that he and his coworkers have to pay for gas and upkeep on their trucks, even though those rigs are not actually theirs.

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This is pretty par for the course, explains Rebecca Smith, the deputy director of the pro-union National Employment Law Project:

"We're seeing all sorts of businesses designing new structures of work…And many of these structures – and independent contractor misclassification is prime among them – separate workers from their labor rights, from their basic workplace benefits that are guaranteed." That trend "really is turning the workplace into a place where people can't support their families," said Smith, and "transforming us into a nation of low-wage workers."

This strike is different than others in that it won't be ongoing; the truckers are planning periodic one-day strikes to allow them to keep up the visibility of their campaign and avoid losing their jobs. It's unclear how much this will affect the high-turnover of clothing stores like Forever 21 or the endlessly stocked shelves of Wal-Mart. The likelihood is that while this strike is hugely important to the workers, it's just a blip on the radar of the corporations that depend on them.

Truckers who haul for Wal-Mart and Forever 21 plan surprise strikes today [Salon]

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Image via Amy Sancetta/AP

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DISCUSSION

This made me check whether or not the concept of Scheinselbständigkeit exists in the English language. Short answer: no.
Scheinselbständigkeit is a concept, where a worker is a free contractor on paper but in reality dependent on one client and

  • has no employees of his own
  • client has regular employees doing the same work
  • does not show signs of entrepreneurial work
  • is subject to directives of said client

if at least 3 of this things are fulfilled, the law will assume that the client is trying to circumvent labor laws and will investigate further. If found guilty, the former contractor will become an employee of the client, even retrospectively for the time they worked for the client with all the rights and obligations any other employee has (i.e. health insurance, paid time off etc).

Maybe a law along those lines would help these workers. They do not sound as if they are actual independent contractors, but more as if they were scheinselbständig.