USA TODAY NETWORK investigation uncovers enterprise corruption and mistreatment of hundreds of truckers in the U.S.


USA TODAY NETWORK published its network wide investigative series, Rigged, today about the mistreatment of truckers based out of two major California ports.

The network-wide investigation, led by Naples Daily News reporter Brett Murphy, details the mistreatment of poor, immigrant truckers on the West Coast. Murphy’s work uncovers how hundreds of workers based out of two key ports in California, ports that serve as the entry point for more than half of America’s imports, are indebted to their employers and work up to 20 hours a day for pay that can drop to pennies per hour.

The investigative series also explores retail’s role, as big box retailers such as Amazon, Wal Mart, and Best Buy heavily depend on the performance of these truckers. Retail giants often hired trucking companies that had been accused of labor violations and spent millions to fight lawmakers that tried to pass worker protections.

Murphy also notes the historical context of this issue. The problem arose a decade ago when a state environmental law designed to clean up dirty ports backfired and trucking companies passed on the cost of new, cleaner rigs to independent truckers themselves

Drivers, many of them immigrants, are now forced into lease-to-own schemes, an arrangement that experts called a modern form of the outdated sharecropping system.

While both state and federal officials are fully aware of the situation, they are often either unable to stop it or simply do not bother to try.

Chris Davis, USA TODAY NETWORK’s VP of Investigations, notes the significance of this investigation as “it exemplifies how we can leverage our network to provide our consumers with groundbreaking reporting while serving as a testament to our power and influence in the field.” Additionally, Davis notes that “[Murphy’s] tireless investigative work has shone a light in a dark corner that few people outside the industry know about. Most people have no idea that they play a part in what’s happened to these drivers each time they swipe their credit card at their favorite store.”

All 110 USA TODAY NETWORK publications will publish the investigative series titled “Rigged,” which can be found online here.