USA TODAY NETWORK’s ‘Rigged’, a year-long investigation looking at the port trucking industry and the mistreatment of truckers in California, has prompted federal lawmakers to propose significant reforms. A group of House Democrats announced they will introduce two federal bills on Thursday in response to the findings of the investigation.
The Port Drivers’ Bill of Rights Act of 2017 will identify work standards for port truckers, while the Clean Ports Act of 2017 will focus on loosening federals restrictions that prevent cities from regulating trucking companies. The impact came after more than a year of reporting by Brett Murphy, who joined USA TODAY NETWORK at the Naples Daily News and now is part of the company’s newly created Florida investigative team.
“We do a lot of important stories. But sometimes you stumble onto a game-changer, a story that can’t be ignored,” said Chris Davis, VP of Investigative Reporting for USA TODAY NETWORK. “The most important thing when you find one of those is to have a reporter who gets that the story is bigger than them. And who chases the story knowing that if they don’t, no one else will. And who takes that huge responsibility personally. That was Brett. He’s helped change people’s lives.”
USA TODAY NETWORK published the investigation in June, which uncovered how hundreds of workers based out of two key Californian ports were indebted to their employers and were working up to 20 hours a day for mere pennies per hour. Retail giants like Amazon, Wal Mart, and Home Depot came under fire for allowing trucking companies accused of labor violations to move their goods. The retail industry spent millions to fight efforts to pass worker protections in the past.
The latest story in the series, published today, shows how companies ordered to repay drivers who were cheated have used legal loopholes and shell games to avoid paying. Many shifted assets to new companies, run by associates or family members, and continued to do business as usual. While drivers went unpaid, some company owners flaunted their wealth: Rolexes, luxury cars and private jets.
The full follow can be read here.