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The Informal Economy: Port Drivers Fight for Fair Wages

For five years, Daniel “Seko” Uaina has been a truck driver at the Port of Los Angeles, which combined with the Port of Long Beach is one of the business container port complexes in the world. He loads the cargo distributed by Walmart, Amazon and many other major retailers. Yet he doesn’t have medical, social security, disability benefits. Sometimes he gives as much as half of his paycheck back to his employer.

While California is called the fifth largest economy in the world, many people like Uaina are working hard but having trouble making ends meet.

Uaina’s employer is one of many formal company that hire workers informally as independent contractors. Since 2011, more than 890 misclassification claims similar to Uaina’s have been filed with the California Labor Commission. The large trucking companies shift the costs of insurance, leasing of trucks, and more to the drivers. In some cases, drivers owe money at the end of their pay period. While these employees are under tight legal scrutiny to keep their licenses in good standing, the large trucking companies and their corporate clients are not held accountable for breaking labor laws with workers.

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City Rising: The Informal Economy

From the beginning of our nation’s history our laws, institutions and social norms have contributed to the creation of a segmented or dual economy. Many people — including people of color, women and immigrants — were excluded from the benefits of society, forcing them to find alternative ways to make a living in a parallel economy.

  • 2020-12-03T20:00:00-08:00
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