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Truckers plan 2-day strike at S. California ports

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Truck drivers who haul cargo in and out of the twin Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach planned to go on a two-day strike beginning Monday that they said was directed not at the busy ports themselves but at the companies that employ drivers.

The truckers have previously picketed at the trucking firms, and the group Justice For Port Truckers said it will take the rally to the ports' cargo terminals Monday.

The truckers contend many of the companies wrongly classify drivers as independent contractors rather than employees in order to pay them less and deny them protections that employees get under state and federal laws.

Industry experts estimate that only 10 percent of truckers are employed by companies, and in recent years, truckers who are classified as independent contractors have filed lawsuits and complaints with state and federal labor agencies to change their status.

More than 500 complaints charging misclassification have been filed with the state Department of Industrial Relations, the Los Angeles Times reported Sunday (http://lat.ms/1fGTFzg ). Thirty-two drivers have won a total of $3.8 million in wages and penalties from 13 trucking companies.

Alex Cherin, a spokesman for the trucking companies, has said the recent actions were part of a Teamsters union plan to push the truckers to organize.

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