"Being with my family should not be a luxury. It is my obligation to be there with them. I feel like I am letting my family down because of how much I have to work in order to support them. "
My name is Amador Rojas, and I have been a port truck driver for PAC 9 at the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach for the last seven years. I am 56 years old, and have two children ages 18 and 9. I am originally from Peru where I attended college and studied to become an accountant... I was told about working as a port truck driver by a friend who told me that he made $2,000 a week. My friend didn’t tell me about all the deductions that were made from our checks for the maintenance and lease on our trucks... Working in the port is not what they told me it would be. I try to take care of my health but suffer from headaches and high blood pressure because of all the hours I drive. Because I am misclassified as an independent contractor, the company deducts the costs of repairs from my paycheck when my truck breaks down. I struggle to make ends meet. Right now I am paying a repair bill for $5,000 and another one for $3,000.
I am very sad because I am not able to see my family enough. Because I work so much I haven’t really been a part of my children’s lives. My 18-year-old son has grown up so fast and I haven’t been there for him. Most days I work 20 hours and because of that I can’t go home until the weekend. I sleep about 4 hours in my truck before the next shift begins. My 9-year-old daughter calls me at work to ask that I come home to see her. She gets mad that I am not able to go see her during the week. Being with my family should not be a luxury. It is my obligation to be there with them. I feel like I am letting my family down because of how much I have to work in order to support them. I missed so much of my son’s childhood working to give him a better future, and now I don’t know how I’m going to afford college for him.