Supreme Court ruling gives truckers a victory and a new weapon in labor war at Los Angeles ports

A U.S. Supreme Court ruling clearing the way for drivers to sue trucking companies could have a major impact on the labor battle that has raged for years at Southern California’s ports, according to worker advocates.

Trucking firms may not block workers from filing class-action lawsuits, even if they consider them to be independent contractors rather than employees, the court ruled Tuesday.

The unanimous decision came in a case filed by Dominic Oliveira, a long-haul driver for New Prime, a Missouri-based carrier with 5,000 contractors. Oliveira said the company failed to pay him and other workers the legal minimum wage and falsely classified them as contractors rather than employees to avoid labor law rules.

New Prime contended that its drivers could not sue because they had signed contracts agreeing to arbitrate any claims privately, waiving their right to go to court.