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