Teamsters react to CA Trucking Association lawsuit to perpetuate misclassification and wage theft at America’s largest port complex
PORTS OF LOS ANGELES/LONG BEACH, CA – On Tuesday, Nov. 12, the California Trucking Association (CTA) filed a lawsuit to block implementation of California’s Assembly Bill 5, presumably to allow California trucking companies to continue to violate multiple state and Federal laws that define “employee” vs. “independent contractor.”
The following is a statement from Fred Potter, Vice President-at-Large, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Director of the Teamsters’ Port Division:
“For decades, companies like Lowe’s, Rio Tinto Mines, and Target have enjoyed unprecedented profitability and shareholder value off the backs of the hardworking truck drivers who haul their imported cargo from our nation’s seaports to their warehouses. It’s no surprise that their trucking contractors are going to court to perpetuate a scheme – deemed illegal by multiple regulatory agencies and courts long before Assembly Bill 5 was introduced in the California Legislature – that has robbed the typical driver of tens of thousands of dollars a year due to their misclassification as independent contractors. The gig is up and it’s time for the drayage industry to comply with local, state, and federal laws or risk being kicked out of the ports altogether, and it’s time for the cargo owners – America’s largest retailers – to stop doing business with recidivist lawbreakers.”
Misclassification of workers as “independent contractors” is a hot topic with the passage of California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) and the subsequent push by U.S. corporations like Uber, DoorDash, and XPO Logistics to undermine the law so they can continue to dodge payroll taxes and increase profitability by exploiting their workforce. There are a lot of questions about AB 5, but one thing is crystal clear:
Long before AB 5 was introduced in the California Legislature, port and rail drivers have consistently been proven to be employees under the current laws, yet deep-pocketed companies like XPO Logistics have continued to flagrantly break employment, labor, and tax laws by persistently misclassifying their truck drivers:
Click here for an overview of port trucking misclassification cases
Click here to read “Rigged,” an investigative series on misclassification at America’s largest seaport
Click here for the seminal report “Big Rig Overhaul” on the epidemic of misclassification at America’s seaports
In the wake of AB 5, port and rail drivers for global logistics company hauling for Toyota & BMW win $800,000 court decision for misclassification as “independent contractors,” file 41 new claims demanding employee rights
COMMERCE & SAN DIEGO, CA – On Friday, Nov. 8, XPO Logistics drivers in Commerce and San Diego, CA, who haul cargo for Toyota, BMW, Sony, and others, announced that they have filed an additional 41 claims for misclassification and wage theft, following a recent CA Superior Court decision finding that four XPO drivers were owed over $800,000. As part of their wage claim process, the drivers delegated management to demand copies of their payroll records, which by law XPO is mandated to keep and provide them with. The drivers were accompanied by members of the Our People Our Port Coalition, including Father Richard Estrada and Pastor Carlos Rincón of Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE), and Zenaida Perez Fuentes of Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (SoCal COSH).
“In September a Judge ruled that we are misclassified and awarded me and three other drivers more than $800,000 in stolen wages but we are still fighting to become company drivers because XPO refuses to recognize that we are their employees. We are hoping that with AB 5 going into effect next year, XPO will comply with the law, reclassify us as company drivers, and provide the wages and benefits we are supposed to have,” said Jose Herrera, a misclassified driver with XPO Logistics since 2010.
“XPO drivers have proven time and again at the courts and government agencies that they are employees, yet XPO continues to misclassify them as independent contractors, so the drivers continue to organize and file claims to get XPO to follow the law, including the newly passed AB 5,” said Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 848.
Misclassification of workers as “independent contractors” is a hot topic with the passage of California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB 5) and the subsequent push by U.S. corporations like Uber, DoorDash, and XPO Logistics to undermine the law so they can continue to dodge payroll taxes and increase profitability by exploiting their workforce. There are a lot of questions about AB 5, but one thing is crystal clear: Long before AB 5 was introduced in the California Legislature, port and rail drivers have consistently been proven to be employees under the current laws, yet deep-pocketed companies like XPO Logistics have continued to flagrantly break employment, labor, and tax laws by persistently misclassifying their port and rail drivers.
Click here for an overview of port trucking misclassification cases
Click here for an overview of regulatory action and litigation at XPO Logistics’ California port and rail divisions
Click here to read “Rigged,” an investigative series on misclassification at America’s largest seaport
XPO Logistics, Inc., is one of the 10 largest providers of transportation and logistics services in the world, operating in 30 counties with more than $17 billion in revenue in 2018. XPO’s Cartage and Port Services divisions are together among the top trucking companies servicing the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and there are approximately 280 misclassified drivers working for both companies in their LA-area locations and about 240 additional drivers in XPO Cartage’s San Diego facility. XPO has faced repeated legal and enforcement agency actions for wage theft due to misclassification of their drivers as independent contractors, the most recent of which was a ruling in CA Superior Court whereby four XPO drivers were found to be employees, upholding a 2017 Labor Commissioner decision and awarding the drivers over $800,000 in damages. In another recent series of cases, 12 other XPO drivers were awarded more than $3 million in wages and penalties after XPO exhausted the appeals process. Click here for a copy of past and current claims by port and rail drivers at XPO Logistics.
AB5: As California cracks down on illegal use of independent contractors…
L.A. City Council Unanimously Demands That America’s Biggest Retailers Clean Up Their Supply Chain, Move Business to Trucking & Warehousing Companies That Comply with Law
LOS ANGELES, CA – After years of protests, legal actions, and strikes by warehouse workers and port truck drivers at NFI Industries/California Cartage – which had a lease to operate on public property at America’s largest seaport – compelling the Los Angeles City Council and the City Attorney to take strong action leading to NFI’s abandonment of the property, the City Council today voted unanimously to demand that cargo owners like Lowe’s, Puma, and Rio Tinto Mines clean up their supply chains and move their business to trucking and warehousing companies that comply with labor and human rights standards that are embedded in their own corporate codes of conduct.
Specifically, on Wednesday, October 22, the L.A. City Council unanimously approved a motion introduced by Council Member Joe Buscaino to:
Urge all port trucking and warehouse operators doing business on Port property to comply with all local, state, and federal laws, including laws regarding worker classification, wage and hour issues, labor rights, and health and safety;
Demand that cargo owners enforce their codes of conduct and require the companies they contract with to move their goods to comply with labor and human rights standards;
Urge retailers to move their work to a company who will meet their own standards and comply with all local, state, and federal laws; and,
Encourage customers who left with the NFI/California Cartage warehouse to bring their work back to the community, to the same workers who previously moved their goods, and will soon be starting work with the Toll Group – the company that has taken over the property previously leased by NFI Industries.
“Over a century ago, Los Angeles fought to create a publicly-owned port that would serve the interests of the people at large. Today’s action by the City Council sends a loud and clear message that Port tenants who profit off the use of public property are expected to follow employment law and treat and pay their employees fairly so that all Angelenos benefit from this important City asset, as our early city leaders had envisioned,” said Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino.
“The message being sent by the City Council is clear: If you want to do business in Los Angeles then you must follow the law and respect the human rights of working families,” said Ron Herrera, newly elected President of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO. “The days when the interests of multi-billion corporations like Lowe’s and Rio Tinto Mines were tacitly prioritized over the wellbeing of Los Angeles’ working families are over.”
“For years, we have shared our stories of the exploitation and abuse that took place on City property at the NFI/Cal Cartage warehouse. Under NFI, the warehouse looked like a prison and the company treated us like inmates. When we spoke up, we were met with retaliation and intimidation,” said Jeremy Hoke, a warehouse worker employed by NFI/Cal Cartage for 13 years who attended the Lowe’s shareholder meeting in April to urge them to stop doing business with NFI because of all its labor violations. “We endured a lot, but we stuck together and stood strong and now thanks to our actions and the support of allies like Councilmember Buscaino and all of the LA City Council, it is a new day at this warehouse. And thanks to the City’s Worker Retention Ordinance, we’re excited to now be getting back to work. We urge all the retailers whose cargo we reliably moved for decades, customers like Lowe’s, TJ Maxx, Amazon, and New Balance, to bring their work back to the warehouse and do business with the Toll Group.”
“This is an enormous step forward for port truck drivers and warehouse workers,” said Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 848. “There is a new tenant at the warehouse, and a new lease with key standards to ensure workers are able to come back to work and that the new tenant, the Toll Group, will follow the law. I am confident that champions like Councilmember Buscaino and the LA City Council will hold the new tenant accountable to the laws of the land.”
California is at the forefront of a national movement to crack down on the illegal use of independent contractors, wage theft, and the abuse of worker rights. California Senate Bill 1402, which went into effect January 1, 2019, makes cargo owners jointly liable for wage theft claims against port trucking companies with outstanding final judgments. California Assembly Bill 5, which will go into effect on January 1, 2020, will make it even harder for companies like NFI to get away with breaking the law by continuing to misclassify their drivers as “independent contractors.”
NFI Industries – specifically the corporation’s subsidiaries at the Port of Los Angeles – is a proven lawbreaker, most recently having been found guilty of multiple labor violations at the NFI/California Cartage warehouse, including:
Holding mandatory meetings with workers two days before a union election, threatening workers that if they voted for the Teamsters the warehouse would be closed or moved – an act that the judge determined was “Coercive and Unlawful.”
Violating the law by prohibiting workers from speaking in favor of the union, retaliating against pro-union workers by denying them work, and threatening to call the police on a pro-union worker who was speaking out against racial discrimination.
NFI’s legal problems extend to the company’s harbor trucking operations and have put NFI/California Cartage Express (CCX) customer Rio Tinto Mines in serious legal jeopardy. The global mining company has a vendor Code of Conduct that sets clear standards for companies with which it contracts yet, despite ample evidence of lawbreaking at CCX including CA Labor Commissioner decisions for $3.7 million in wage theft, Rio Tinto continues to contract with NFI/CCX. “Rio Tinto should drop NFI immediately and move its work to a company that will follow the law and come into compliance with its own code of conduct,” continued Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 848.
TEAMSTERS CALL ON N.J. EDA TO IMMEDIATELY SUSPEND NFI’S $80 MILLION TAX BREAK
Governor’s Independent Task Force Report Found NFI was Awarded $80 Million in Tax Breaks Despite “Potentially Fraudulent” Application for Benefits
(HAZLET, N.J.) – The Teamsters Union is calling on New Jersey’s Economic Development Authority (EDA) to suspend nearly $80 million in tax breaks given to NFI, L.P., through the Grow NJ tax incentive program. This request follows Monday’s release of the Governor’s Task Force report on EDA Tax Incentives, which affirms union members’ concerns over misrepresentations by the company in its application for tax benefits. In the report, the Task Force found that “. . . at the crux of the matter, NFI’s application contained potential misrepresentations and a potentially fraudulent CEO certification.”
On Thursday, June 13, the Teamsters Union sent Attorney General General Gurbir Grewal and New Jersey Economic Development Authority Ethics Liaison Officer Frederick Cole a letter, requesting that they investigate, prosecute and sanction NFI, L.P., in connection with its application for state benefits. The letter was signed by Fred Potter, Teamsters International Vice President At-Large and Director of the Teamsters Port Division. Copies of the letter were also sent to the Governor’s Task Force on EDA Tax Incentives.
“We raised serious concerns about NFI’s misrepresentations to the state of New Jersey and the company’s long track record of violating labor laws across the country. This Task Force report is further confirmation that NFI is an irresponsible company that lied to get a tax giveaway to the tune of nearly $80 million. This is hard-earned taxpayer money, and NFI is a law-breaker that is not deserving of this benefit,” said Teamsters International Vice President Fred Potter, who is also President of Teamsters Local 469 in Hazlet, N.J. “The EDA has already shown that when there are serious questions regarding the truthfulness of a company’s application, it’s appropriate to suspend the tax break. We are demanding that the EDA take immediate action to suspend NFI’s tax breaks while this matter is investigated by the Attorney General.”
More than 55,000 Teamsters live and pay taxes in New Jersey, working in critical industries, including transportation, logistics and public services. New Jersey Teamsters believe that their state’s limited resources should not be used to benefit irresponsible, law-breaking employers.
NFI, a national third-party logistics provider headquartered in New Jersey, lied in its application for taxpayer funds when it failed to disclose its prior conviction for three counts of wire fraud and failed to disclose pending legal proceedings alleging violations of wage and hour laws to the state’s Economic Development Authority, which administers the Grow NJ program.
The Teamsters’ letter states that NFI’s history of violating workers’ rights should bar it from receiving state financial assistance. The company has violated laws governing hours of labor and minimum wage standards, avoided paying legally required overtime compensation, and illegally misclassified hundreds of port workers in California by claiming they are independent contractors. By misclassifying its employees, the company avoided its responsibility to cover social security, workers’ compensation and other business expenses.
“NFI has a history of violating workers’ rights, from California to Pennsylvania and around the country. Companies that contract with NFI need to be aware of the operational risks that come with doing business with a law-breaking company that is under public scrutiny for its fraudulent behavior,” Potter said.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
Port truck drivers in U.S. under Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program, Teamsters, applaud passage of Dream and Promise Act in U.S. House of Representatives
(PORTS OF LOS ANGELES/LONG BEACH) – Truck drivers who haul containerized cargo on and off the docks of America’s seaports – many of whom are in the U.S. under the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program – join the Teamsters Union in applauding today’s passage of the Dream and Promise Act in the U.S. House of Representatives.
The Dream and Promise Act would provide a path to legal permanent residency and citizenship for Dreamers who came to the United States as children and for workers who came from countries covered by the Temporary Protected Status (TPS) program.
The legislation would allow truck drivers and other hard working men and women to continue contributing to their communities, supporting their families, and contributing to the U.S economy. The legislation would help provide a secure future for workers and a stable workforce in construction, food processing, transportation, hospitality, and many other industries.
“It’s good news to hear that the House passed the Dream and Promise Act. A few months ago, I came to Washington, D.C., to share my story as a truck driver and TPS holder with our representatives. We make so many contributions to our communities and economy. We need solutions, and we hope the Senate moves on this soon,” said Cesar Rodriguez, a port truck driver at XPO logistics and TPS recipient.
“We are a nation of immigrants and our nation has prospered thanks to immigrants. Members of our union follow the rules, work hard, pay taxes and strengthen our communities. They deserve stability and the Dream and Promise Act will provide that. We look forward to this legislation moving forward and becoming law,” said Ron Herrera, International Vice President and Executive Director of the Teamsters National Hispanic Caucus.
Teamsters Port Division (on location in Charlotte): Ricardo Hidalgo, (310) 251-6876
Friday, May 31, 1:00 pm EST
Truck drivers, warehouse workers from America’s largest port complex to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to call upon Lowe’s Board of Directors and home town customers to clean up broken supply chain, end illegal labor practices in United States
Charlotte, NC – On Friday, May 31, 2019, supply chain workers who haul and handle imported cargo for home improvement giant Lowe’s (NYSE:LOW) will attend the company’s Annual General Meeting in Charlotte, NC, to educate company executives and shareholders on the egregious and persistent labor law violations that are routinely happening in their supply chain at the Port of Los Angeles, California, specifically with vendor NFI Industries. These workers were among those featured in an explosive USA Today series in 2017, and the company is currently being sued by the Los Angeles City Attorney for misclassification and unfair business practices. The port workers, together with Teamster representatives, will demand that the company enforce it’s Vendor Code of Conduct. On Friday afternoon, May 31, port workers will be joined by local Teamster leaders and at a Lowe’s retail store, where they will distribute an informative leaflet to customers, urging consumer action.
WHO: Lowe’s workers, local Teamster leaders and members
“For years we have heard about the wage theft and abuse happening at U.S. ports, where truck drivers are suffering from massive wage theft and toiling in working conditions that are as bad as any conditions we hear about in third world countries,” said Vernon Gammon, Principal Officer, Teamsters Local 391. “Here in North Carolina we have fought for and won strong notifications to stop employers’ illegal use of independent contractors. An injury to one is an injury to all, and we stand in solidarity with NFI warehouse workers and port truck drivers fighting for justice.”
Lowe’s contractor, NFI Industries, has recently chosen to vacate prime port property rather than comply with local, state, and federal labor laws (the Toll Group has been selected by the Port of Los Angeles and is currently in negotiations with the Port to move onto the property in July 2019). In a March 15, 2019, letter to Lowe’s CEO Marvin Ellison from warehouse worker Edelberto Zamora Castillo (NFI/California Cartage Warehouse) and port truck driver Hector Zelaya (NFI/K&R Trucking), workers called upon Lowe’s to take action:
“We want to make sure you are aware of the many problems at NFI. For years, we have spoken up about unsafe equipment, incredibly hot temperatures inside the warehouse, misclassification as “independent contractors,” racial discrimination we’ve faced, retaliation and intimidation, widespread wage theft we endure, and ongoing abuses of our rights as workers. Now, as a customer of NFI, you face a clear choice. Will you stand with us, the workers who have dedicated our lives to moving your products, or with NFI, a company that has repeatedly demonstrated its contempt for workers and the law?” Click here to read full letter.
CA Truck Drivers Who Haul Cargo To and From America’s Largest Port Complex For Toyota, BMW, And Sony – Illegally Classified As “Independent Contractors” By XPO Logistics – Engage In Global Day of Protest Against Company’s Abusive Practices
Los Angeles and San Diego, CA – Port and rail drivers employed by XPO Logistics’ Cartage and Port Services divisions in Los Angeles and San Diego today are engaging in a GLOBAL day of action to protest the company’s abusive practices, including persistent illegal classification as “independent contractors” despite multiple rulings determining unequivocally that the drivers are employees of the company.
WHO: XPO Port and rail drivers
WHAT: Global day of protest, including rallies in Los Angeles and San Diego, CA
WHEN: 5:00-6:00 am PST; 3:00-5:00 pm PST
XPO Cartage, 10250 Airway Rd, San Diego, CA 92154
XPO Cartage, 5800 Sheila St., Commerce, CA 90040
XPO Port Services, 18726 S Laurel Park Rd, Compton, CA 90220
“XPO makes us feel like we don’t exist, and we are just company property,” said Jose ‘Chema’ Rodriguez, an XPO driver from San Diego. “As someone who drives from Tijuana, Mexico to San Diego every single day to work more than 12 hours, it’s ludicrous that I’m still unable to afford to live in the United States because of the compensation and benefits XPO has denied me by misclassifying me as an ‘independent contractor.’ XPO executives claim we want to remain as independent contractors, but they aren’t the ones struggling to make ends meet.”
“XPO’s port and rail drivers are sick and tired of abuse by this company and it’s past time for XPO to follow the law, recognize drivers’ employee rights, and pay these hard-working men and women a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work,” said Fred Potter, International Vice President-at-Large and Director of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters’ Port Division. “The Teamsters stand united with XPO workers in America and around the globe in their fight for justice and better working conditions.”
XPO Logistics (NYSE: XPO) is a global corporation whose subsidiaries, XPO Cartage and XPO Port Services, are together among the top trucking companies servicing the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach and nearby railyards. XPO Cartage and Port Services’ main customers in California include well-known brands such as Amazon, BMW, Bose, Converse, Procter and Gamble, Samsung, and Toyota. The company employs approximately 440 port and rail drivers in their Los Angeles and San Diego locations who are misclassified as “independent contractors” to reduce labor and capital expenses and avoid payroll tax obligations. These drivers are contesting the company’s illegal labor practices with the California Labor Commissioner and in the courts, and have gone on strike five times in the last five years to raise awareness of their fight.
Click here for a summary of legal and regulatory action at XPO Cartage and XPO Port Services.
In the first five months of 2019, XPO port and rail drivers have been actively fighting for justice and better working conditions at XPO:
Hundreds of thousands of dollars have been assigned to several workers due to misclassification and the number continues to grow.
XPO drivers have made multiple visits to elected officials in California and Washington DC, as well to different national and international organizations in search of support.
Every day, more and more workers have chosen to join the different active lawsuits to provide justice and stop XPO from stealing from drivers.
XPO has been forced to pay more than $30 million in penalties for labor, health’ and safety violations.
Teamsters, Port Workers Applaud Port of LA Decision to Lease Former NFI/Cal Cartage Property to New Trucking & Warehouse Company; Toll Group Now in Position to Negotiate With Port to Operate on Prime Port Property
Lowe’s, Best Buy, T.J.Maxx, and Rio Tinto Mines Urged to Work with Toll at Prime Port Property
PORT OF LOS ANGELES, CA – The Port of Los Angeles has announced that the Toll Group has been selected to negotiate with the port to lease the 85-acre port-adjacent site, which includes 600,000 square feet of warehouse space and prime open land for harbor trucking operations. For more than fifty years, the site has been occupied by the California Cartage group of companies and its successor, NFI Industries, which has been the subject of litigation, regulatory action, and labor unrest due to the company’s scheme of misclassifying its drivers as independent contractors, failure to pay the minimum wage, and unsafe working conditions.
Click here for a history of recent and past legal and regulatory action NFI/California Cartage.
“The Teamsters have been supporting NFI/California Cartage drivers and warehouse workers in their fight for justice for more than five years and we will continue to support their goal to become Teamsters,” said Fred Potter, Vice President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Director, Teamsters Port Division. “Toll has been a responsible employer for the Teamsters at the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach and in New Jersey and has a demonstrable track record of following the law and respecting employees’ right to bargain collectively for a fair day’s pay for a fair day’s work. If a majority of the workers choose to join the Teamsters Union, then we are ready to work with Toll to make this enormous investment in our nation’s supply chain a success for the company, the workers, and the Los Angeles community.”
“NFI/California Cartage has a history of abusing and misclassifying its employees to increase profits and drive down prices for customers like Lowe’s, Best Buy, T.J.Maxx, and Rio Tinto Mines. As the largest logistics company at the Ports of LA/Long Beach, this has negatively impacted NFI’s law-abiding competitors, a key issue raised by LA City Attorney Mike Feuer in his ongoing lawsuit against three NFI trucking companies for unfair business practices,” said Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 848, which represents more than 500 port truck drivers at the Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach. “As the winning bidder, Toll now has the opportunity to negotiate a lease with the Port, act as a responsible employer by raising standards for workers at the site, and lead the port trucking industry into a new era in which the misclassification of truck drivers as ‘independent contractors’ is a rare criminal issue rather than the dominant business model at America’s largest port complex.”
For the last 10 years, Jesus Maldonado has driven 300 miles a day hauling borax from the Rio Tinto mine in Boron, California, to the Port of Los Angeles for NFI/California Cartage Express’ customer Rio Tinto Mining. “I went with the Teamsters to London last month to tell Rio Tinto’s Chairman that NFI is violating the company’s code of conduct and to urge them to do business with a company that respects its workers, and from what I’ve heard Toll Global Forwarding is such a company,” Maldonado said. “Working for NFI, I had no sick leave and went without pay when I needed urgent medical care. In fact, I owed money after taking time off to recover, because I have to keep paying the company for the truck whether or not I work.”
“For years, my coworkers and I have fought side by side to end the retaliation, intimidation, and worker abuse going on in the NFI Warehouse. The news that Toll will be taking over the Wilmington warehouse is good news. It shows that when workers speak up, change is possible and gives us hope that justice is on the horizon for us,” said Jeremy Hoke, California Cartage warehouse.
In January 2019, after three months of operating without a valid lease, NFI Industries (formerly the California Cartage group of companies), the largest trucking and warehousing company serving America’s leading port complex, announced its intention to vacate prime property owned by the Port of Los Angeles. This decision came three months after the LA City Council unanimously revoked NFI’s lease in the wake of the seventh strike by warehouse workers and port truck drivers at the site. On Mon., Feb. 11, 2019, the Port of Los Angeles issued a Request for Proposal (RFP) for a new tenant for this critical site.
Truck Drivers Who Haul Imports for Best Buy, Puma, and Lowe’s Awarded More Than $1.2 Million For Wage Theft at America’s Largest Seaport
Teamsters, Community Leaders Stand With Drivers in Fight Against Misclassification
PORT OF LOS ANGELES/LONG BEACH, CA – 10 California port truck drivers who haul cargo for Best Buy, Puma, and Lowe’s have been awarded more than $1.2 million by the California Labor Commissioner for wage theft due to misclassification as independent contractors. Specifically, the decision orders K&R Transportation, which was purchased by NFI Industries in 2017, to pay the drivers for unpaid wages, unpaid meal and rest breaks, and illegal paycheck deductions based on claims filed in 2017. The company has until April 25, 2019, to either appeal or pay the drivers the amounts owed; if they do neither, then the decisions will become final judgments. If final judgments go unpaid, K&R’s customers could be held liable for future claims under California’s new joint liability law, Senate Bill 1402.
Click on the links below to read:
Fact sheet regarding the April 2019 Order, Decision, and Awards against K&R Transportation
Fact sheet on the history of lawlessness at the California Cartage family of companies, which were purchased by NFI Industries, at the Ports of LA/Long Beach
Summary of the Labor Commissioner’s decisions at the Ports of LA/Long Beach
Hector Zelaya, a K&R Transportation driver who was featured in a story in The Nation in August 2018, is one of the ten drivers to receive news that justice has been served on Friday:
“We’re happy that the CA Labor Commissioner has recognized the injustices we’ve experienced at the hands of K&R Transportation. They’ve taken advantage of us for far too long and it will not stand. This decision is a great step, but justice will not truly be served until companies like K&R completely end their law-breaking practices, stop the wage theft and the abuse we endure on the job every day, and classify us as the employees we truly are. My coworkers and I will continue to stand with each other and fight for what is rightfully ours.”
“We are sick and tired of these companies taking advantage of hard-working drivers like those at K&R Transportation,” said Eric Tate, Principal Office of Teamsters Local 848, which now represents more than 500 port truck drivers who have successfully secured their employee rights. “The Labor Commissioner’s award will provide temporary relief to these ten families who have suffered from wage theft; however, K&R Transportation – like NFI’s other port truck companies – continues to illegally classify it’s drivers as ‘independent contractors’ and we are doing everything in our power to let retailers like Puma, Lowe’s, and Best Buy know that they’ll be held liable unless they move their business to companies that are following U.S. tax and labor laws.”
“It is reprehensible that retailers like Lowe’s continue to do business with law-breaking companies that take advantage of vulnerable immigrant port truck drivers by misclassifying them as independent contractors, stealing their wages, and denying them safe meal and rest breaks,” said Myron Wollin, President of the Long Beach Gray Panthers. “These retailers need to step up and take strong action to assure that the law breaking will not be tolerated.”
Drivers from K&R Transportation were among those featured in an investigative series published by the USA Today Network in 2017. K&R Transportation operates in Wilmington, CA, on property owned by the Port of Los Angeles. In January 2019, K&R’s new owner, NFI Industries, announced it’s intention to vacate the property rather than reach an agreement to end labor disruptions on the Port’s prime property.
In their quest for employee rights and fair treatment, K&R drivers, together with other NFI drivers and warehouse workers, have gone on strike seven times over a five-year period causing significant disruption to port operations leading the Los Angeles City Council to unanimously revoked NFI’s lease. The company, along with two other NFI Industry subsidiaries, was sued by the Los Angeles City Attorney for misclassification and unfair business practices in January 2018. The suit is ongoing.
Justice for Port Drivers Stands With Northwest Port Truckers Who Refuse to Bear the Cost of New Environmental Regulations
WASHINGTON, DC – For too long port trucking companies, shippers, and retailers have raked in record profits off the back of America’s port drivers, whom the USA Today Network has aptly called “modern day indentured servants.” Treated like employees but illegally paid as “independent contractors,” the drivers’ outdated trucks that are used to haul America’s imports – many with millions of miles on them, which the Los Angeles Times has calculated “are the equivalent of about six round trips to the moon” – spew toxic fumes into local communities.
It’s no surprise that the communities adjacent to the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma have demanded a Clean Truck Program to rid the Puget Sound communities of dirty diesel trucks, and though we applaud The Northwest Seaport Alliance for adopting a Clean Truck Program, we urge them to immediately amend the program to demand that the shippers – the big retailers like Walmart, Target, and Home Depot – pay for the new trucks, not the drivers who have not ability to increase rates to cover the cost of the new regulations.
“We stand with the Puget Sound community, which has demanded clean air, but the truck drivers serving the ports of Seattle and Tacoma should not be forced to choose between good jobs and clean air – we all deserve both. The Northwest ports of Seattle and Tacoma must take responsibility for cleaning up this toxic waste dump. The ports have the power to require the powerful shippers that own the cargo – like Target, Home Depot, and Boeing – to pay drayage rates that cover the cost of purchasing new, clean equipment instead of sticking it to the drivers,” said Fred Potter, Teamsters International Vice President and Director of the Teamsters Port Division.
With the dedicated support from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, plus many other labor, community, and faith allies, Justice for Port Drivers is fighting to change the port trucking industry so drivers and their families can win justice. More than 75,000 strong, America’s port drivers haul our country’s imports and exports for retail companies, for manufacturers, and for the U.S. Military. We are proud to be professional truck drivers and proud of the service we provide. Without us, America would stop. Read more