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May 1, 6:20 PM EDT

Truck drivers end strike at Los Angeles-area seaports


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LOS ANGELES (AP) -- Drivers who picketed several trucking firms at the nation's busiest seaport complex returned to work Friday after a weeklong strike they say will not be their last.

A few hundred truckers staged a strike against four companies that haul goods from the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, according to organizers of the action.

The overall effect of the strike, which began Monday, at ports that handle hundreds of billions of dollars of international trade each year was not huge. About 16,000 truckers work the two ports.

Though the truckers did not win any concessions from companies they say underpay them by treating them as independent contractors, rather than fulltime employees, they couldn't afford to keep striking, according to Barb Maynard of Justice for LA/LB Port Drivers, the campaign to unionize the drivers.

"They've got mouths to feed. They've got families. They entered this strike knowing it wasn't going to be the only strike," Maynard said.

By Friday afternoon, workers returned to all four companies, Maynard said.

A spokesman for an association representing trucking firms says the end of the strike is good for everyone involved. "We are glad everyone is getting back to work," said Weston LaBar, executive director of the Harbor Trucking Association.

The Teamsters union has been trying to organize drivers at the ports, saying their employers are engaged in what Maynard called "persistent wage theft" because as independent contractors, drivers must pay their own expenses.

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