DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES (KABC) -- Nearly 100 independent truckers and their families took to the streets of downtown Los Angeles, urging city officials to renew contracts for its As-Needed Haul Truck Program.
"This is a long-standing program of 132 years, it's many generations," said Victor Vasquez, a trucker who participated in Thursday's protest. "People are still here since the 50s that their grandfathers and fathers have passed on. These streets need to get paved. We've had double the amount of damage and potholes and we would like the mayor to have an intervention and save our jobs."
The city's As-Needed Haul Truck Program is a program in the Bureau of Street Services, or StreetsLA, that dates back to the 1890s.
According to StreetsLA, the program was introduced during a period of growth and when "additional trucking was required to assist city forces in the building, maintenance and resurfacing of the city's roads.''
StreetsLA has since retained a list of "qualified and ready-to-work independent owner operators" for short-term and long-term hauling projects.
Many of the truckers are members of the Los Angeles City Contract Truck Association (LACCTA) - which runs the city's haul truck program - and were reportedly given letters on May 31 informing them that the city would not be able to renew those contracts, which are set to expire June 30.
"We do the streets, we do asphalt, grinding, so we build the streets, so if we don't work, you guys aren't going to have streets," said trucker Viken Mardirossian.
City officials cited state legislation AB 5, which was passed in 2020 and changed the California Labor Code, classifying workers as employees rather than independent contractors.
But the group of truckers who protested Thursday works directly for the city, with no middle man.
"AB5 law pretty much attacks trucking brokers and that doesn't suit this particular matchup," said Vasquez.
The Department of Public Works issued the following the statement:
"In 2020, the State passed AB 5, legislation that changed the California Labor Code, classifying workers as employees rather than independent contractors. This is having wide ramifications across the State, and will cause the haul truck program to end when current contracts expire at the end of June. We care very much about the livelihoods of our partners and have been working aggressively at the direction of the Mayor to ensure that our 93 contract truckers are given the opportunity to continue employment, and that paving operations continue seamlessly."
"We've been working for them for years and years and building the streets and now our bills are going to be behind," said Mardirossian. "So we might be homeless, night bring a tent and sit in front of the goddam city."
LACCTA hopes the city will renew its contracts with independent truckers.
City News Service, Inc. contributed to this report.