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Media Advisory: Port Truck Drivers Go on Strike, Demand Trucking Companies Follow the Law

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: April 12, 2021
Contact: Matt Lopez, Matt.Lopez[at]berlinrosen.com

Port Truck Drivers Go on Strike, Demand Trucking Companies Follow the Law, Reinstate Illegally Fired Workers, Bargain for Fair Contract

Strike follows NLRB complaint alleging 20 violations of labor law by Universal Logistics Holdings-affiliated companies

Company fired unit of drivers that voted to join union, transferred work to drivers misclassified as independent contractors

LOS ANGELES — Striking port truck drivers, including drivers who were illegally fired after voting to form a union, will organize a picket line outside of ULH’s Southern Counties Express trucking yard at 8:00am Monday at 2880 East Las Hermanas Street in Compton.

Drivers are demanding that a family of trucking companies owned by Universal Logistics Holdings (ULH) and operating at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach follow the law, reinstate the unit of illegally fired drivers with back pay, respect drivers’ right to form a union, bargain in good faith for a collective-bargaining agreement, and cease misclassifying drivers as independent contractors. Universal Logistics Holdings is a multi-billion dollar logistics company whose subsidiaries serve major retailers in the area including Ross, Walmart and Toyota.

The drivers’ unfair labor practice strike comes just weeks after the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint against numerous ULH-affiliated companies, including Southern Counties Express and Universal Intermodal Services, finding over 20 egregious violations of federal labor law.

The Board complaint alleges that ULH/Universal Intermodal Services violated the law by terminating its workforce of unionized drivers shortly following their union election victory in December 2019, as well as by failing and refusing to bargain in good faith for a contract. The company then unlawfully transferred work from the recently-unionized facility to ULH/Southern Counties Express, the complaint alleges.  Not only are ULH/Southern Counties Express and sister company ULH/ Container Connection non-unionized, but drivers at both ULH affiliated enterprises are also misclassified as independent contractors.

WHO: Striking port truck drivers, including those illegally fired by ULH’s Universal Intermodal Services
WHAT: Strike and picket line in front of ULH’s Southern Counties Express yard
WHEN: Monday, April 12th, 2021,8 AM
WHERE: MAIN STRIKE LINE:  ULH’s Southern Counties yard at 2880 E. Las Hermanas St. Compton, CA 90220

Christmas Retaliation

Employees at ULH/Universal Intermodal Services began organizing in late 2019 and almost immediately the company fired multiple drivers in an attempt to intimidate other employees seeking to do the same. When employees at one location nonetheless voted to unionize, the employer took retaliatory and preemptive action shortly before Christmas and terminated the entire workforce — not only at that facility, but also numerous workers at two other locations where nascent union organizing efforts existed.

Universal’s unlawful efforts grew even more insidious when the company transferred work from the unionized Universal employee company, Universal Intermodal Services, to a Universal company with misclassified drivers, Southern Counties Express, as part of its effort to rid itself of union supporters and avoid unionization.

In its complaint against the ULH-affiliated companies, the NLRB also alleged that the ULH . affiliate companies operating at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach to be a single integrated business enterprise constituting a “single employer” and “alter egos” under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). The board alleged numerous other violations of federal labor law, including:

  • Suspending and terminating two lead union supporters in retaliation for their union activity shortly after they began exercising their rights to organize a union;
  • Terminating/laying off all Roadrunner company drivers in retaliation for and to prevent union activity;
  • Terminating/laying off all Universal Truckload company drivers in retaliation for and to prevent union activity;
  • Reducing drivers’ hours and pay after their union election in retaliation for their Union activity and without bargaining with the Union;
  • Terminating/laying off entire Universal Intermodal Services unionized workforce following their election victory and moving the work to another ULH affiliated enterprise-Southern Counites — in retaliation for their union activity and without bargaining with the Union;
  • Failing and refusing to bargain with the Union for a first contract and over a multitude of mandatory subjects of bargaining; and
  • A host of other hallmark violations of the NLRA, such as unlawful interrogation, soliciting grievances and promising benefits, discouraging employees from filing charges with the NLRB, refusing to provide the Union with information it is required to provide, and dealing directly with unit employees

Misclassification Rampant Throughout Port Trucking Industry

The COVID-19 pandemic has illustrated the crisis of misclassified drivers being denied basic protections like sick leave, unemployment insurance, disability insurance, worker compensation, and health insurance because of their misclassification as independent contractors.

Just last week, a driver for another ULH-affiliated company, Container Connection, spoke out at a California Senate Labor Committee hearing about the impacts of misclassification on drivers and their families, including wage theft, a lack of safety net protections, and an unsafe workplace. He also shared his story on the steps of the Capitol to advocate for three bills to address port driver misclassification, SB 338 (Gonzalez), SB 700 (Durazo), and AB 794 (Carillo).

The driver shared that in March, he and a co-worker filed a Cal/OSHA complaint alleging a systemic failure to protect drivers and demanding. that Cal/OSHA conduct an immediate on-site investigation to investigate Container Connection’s lack of a COVID-19 Prevention Program. The complaint details a long list of COVID-19 hazards present throughout the course of the drivers’ day-to-day work, during which they pick up shipping containers at the Port and transport them to the warehouses of companies such as Whirlpool and Ross. At virtually every point along the way, the complaint alleges, ULH/Container Connection fails to implement procedures to keep drivers safe from COVID-19.

Misclassification also cheats city, state and local government—and ultimately the public—of tax dollars and puts high-road employers that comply with the law at a competitive disadvantage. Prior to its purchase by ULH, Container Connection also engaged in past shell games to avoid millions of dollars in wage theft judgments, eventually paying workers only after the Labor Commissioner’s Office issued “Stop Work” orders demanding it stop doing work in California until it paid its workers.

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About The International Brotherhood of Teamsters:

The Teamsters is America’s largest, most diverse union. The Teamsters are known as the champion of freight drivers and warehouse workers, but have organized workers in virtually every occupation imaginable, in the private and public sector. For more than a century, the Teamsters have been a public voice for the rights and aspirations of working men and women and a key player in securing them.

Sen. Gonzalez, Sen. Durazo, Asm. Carrillo to Unveil Legislative Package to Protect Essential Port Truck Drivers

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: April 5, 2021

Contact: Matt Lopez, Matt.Lopez[at]berlinrosen.com

*PRESS CONFERENCE AT 11:30am*

MON: Sen. Gonzalez, Sen. Durazo, Asm. Carrillo to Unveil Legislative Package to Protect Essential Port Truck Drivers

Pandemic underscores urgency of justice for misclassified port truck drivers  who are denied key rights including sick leave, health insurance, workers’ comp, unemployment insurance 

Following press conference, Senate to hold hearing on SB 338, key component of package

SACRAMENTO — A year into a pandemic that has devastated essential workers and their communities, Senator María Elena Durazo, Senator Lena Gonzalez and Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo will hold a press conference Monday in support of a legislative package designed to protect California’s essential port truck drivers and increase accountability for trucking companies who misclassify drivers as independent contractors. Through misclassification, trucking companies exploit drivers and rob California of valuable tax revenue, while at the same time benefiting from taxpayer subsidies.

International Brotherhood of Teamsters Port Division Director Ron Herrera and Port of Los Angeles driver Juan Giraldo will join the elected officials for the press conference unveiling the package, which includes SB 338 (Gonzalez), AB 794 (Carrillo) and SB 700 (Durazo). 

The COVID-19 pandemic has underscored the urgency of legislation addressing the crisis of worker misclassification that is rampant at California’s ports. Trucking companies systematically misclassify port truck drivers as independent contractors instead of employees, denying drivers basic protections like sick leave, unemployment and disability insurance, worker compensation, wage and hour protections, and health insurance. 

At the same time, trucking companies force these drivers to pay for all of the business expenses that the companies are legally responsible for, including things like truck costs and even personal protective equipment. During the pandemic, misclassification has left drivers without a safety net and vulnerable to illness and economic calamity. 

WHO: 

  • Senator Lena Gonzalez  
  • Senator María Elena Durazo
  • Assemblymember Wendy Carrillo
  • Ron Herrera, Director, International Brotherhood of Teamsters Port Division
  • Juan Carlos Giraldo, port truck driver for ULH/Container Connection

WHAT: Press conference rolling out legislative package to protect port truck drivers, hold trucking companies accountable

WHEN: Monday, April 5, 2021 at 11:30am

WHERE: Capitol North Steps, Sacramento // Livestream available HERE

After the press conference, the Senate Labor, Public Employment and Retirement Committee will hold a hearing on SB 338, a key component of the legislative package that would hold accountable shippers and retailers when they contract with companies that misclassify workers or violate basic health and safety laws. 

Specifically, the bills in the legislative package would: 

  • SB 338 (Gonzalez): Identify repeat offenders who continually violate labor, employment, and health and safety laws to put retailers on notice, as well as make it easier to hold retailers or shippers accountable when they contract with trucking companies that misclassify workers, deny workers health and safety protections, or otherwise violate employment laws. SB 338 builds upon SB 1402 (Lara – 2018) to protect drivers, incentivize contracts with companies that follow the law, and ensure that both the state and individuals are able to recover back wages and taxes.
  • AB 794 (Carrillo): Require that California Air Resources Board (CARB) grants, incentives and rebates for purchasing clean fleet and electric vehicles are tied to workforce and compliance standards, which will ensure both that climate goals are reached and that the state does not subsidize companies that violate workers’ rights and cheat the state out of tax dollars.
  • SB 700 (Durazo): Help misclassified drivers access critical Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits and protect them from facing unfair liability by clarifying that trucking companies that misclassify drivers are responsible for payroll taxes. 

Trucking Industry Rife With Misclassification, Labor Violations

This year alone, trucking companies operating at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have come under increased scrutiny for their long history of worker misclassification and health and safety violations. 

Last month, drivers filed a Cal/OSHA complaint against Universal Logistics Holdings (ULH) subsidiary Container Connection, alleging a long list of COVID-19 hazards present throughout the course of the drivers’ day-to-day work, during which they pick up shipping containers at the Port and transport them to warehouses. At virtually every point along the way, the complaint alleges, ULH/Container Connection fails to implement procedures to keep drivers safe from COVID-19. The complaint details numerous instances of lack of proper mask-wearing, lack of social distancing, failure to sanitize shared equipment and failure to notify workers about potential COVID-19 exposure.

And in a landmark victory for the rights of port truck drivers in Los Angeles and Long Beach, the National Labor Relations Board issued a complaint last month against ULH- affiliated business enterprises Universal Intermodal Services, Southern Counties Express, Roadrunner Intermodal Services and Universal Truckload. The complaint alleges over 20 violations of federal labor law, including that Universal Intermodal Services violated the law by terminating its workforce of unionized drivers shortly following their union election victory in December 2019. 

Over the past few years, courts and state agencies have resoundingly found drivers to be employees, including in almost 500 Labor Commissioner decisions resulting in over $60 million owed in unpaid wages and damages. 

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Teamsters to Distribute Masks, Food to Port Truck Drivers Impacted by COVID-19

MEDIA ADVISORY FOR: May 28, 2020

CONTACT: Adan Alvarez, [email protected]

Elana Bodow, [email protected]

Matt Lopez, [email protected] 

TODAY: Teamsters to Distribute Masks, Food to Port Truck Drivers Impacted by COVID-19

Majority of Truck Drivers Report Declining Pay as Illegal Misclassification as Independent Contractors Squeezes Income Further

SAN PEDRO — As truck drivers at the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach continue to face illegal misclassification as independent contractors, declining wages, and unsafe working conditions amid the COVID-19 pandemic, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters on Thursday will host a food bank to assist those in need, in partnership with the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, Labor Community Services, and the Los Angeles County Food Bank. The food bank, which will be conducted as a socially-distanced drive-thru, will also be an opportunity for truck drivers to pick up masks, as their employers have overwhelmingly failed to provide them with proper PPE.

According to a recent survey of Los Angeles port truck drivers, 82% of drivers say they have no paid sick days and 84% do not have health insurance through their job. A full 70% do not feel that the company they drive for is doing enough to keep them safe at work. In April, 68% reported less pay over the previous month as cargo at the ports have dropped and wait times have increased.

WHAT: Food drive and mask distribution for port truck drivers struggling amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

WHEN: Thursday, May 28 from 1:00 p.m. — 6:00 p.m. PDT

WHERE: 300 Ferry Street, San Pedro

LONGSTANDING ILLEGAL MISCLASSIFICATION LEAVES TRUCK DRIVERS VULNERABLE

The vast majority of port drivers were already illegally misclassified as independent contractors prior to the pandemic, leaving them vulnerable to trucking companies that force drivers into debt and routinely deduct truck payments from their paychecks. Additionally, port truck drivers do not feel safe at work, as trucking companies and the ports fail to take necessary precautions, and drivers fear for their health as they are forced to choose between insurmountable medical bills or going to the doctor for a check-up. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has long stood with misclassified drivers in their fight for fairness and for the wages and rights they deserve.

Earlier this month, truck drivers who work at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach circled their trucks around the Port of Los Angeles administrative building and delivered a petition demanding greater protections amid the COVID-19 crisis. The drivers’ demands include: proper PPE, paid sick leave, immediate cash assistance, free COVID-19 testing, social distancing procedures, and a suspension of payment requirements related to truck loans and leases.

The Ports have the power to ensure the trucking companies are law-abiding partners, and Mayors Garcetti and Garcia can provide the Ports with that guidance. The International Brotherhood of Teamsters urges them to do so.

Full text of petition delivered by drivers:

Port Drivers Need Protections and Paid Leave ASAP!!!

To: Port of LA and Port of Long Beach Harbor Commissioners

We port drivers at the Ports of LA and Long Beach are fed up with how careless the ports continue to be with our safety. As drivers we move truck-loads of goods from the ports to warehouses and come into contact with a wide variety of people, equipment and facilities. We are worried about our own safety and that of our families. We are worried about how we will continue to pay for our trucks, insurance costs and our family expenses without our regular income.

We are considered “essential workers” but we are treated like garbage. We share phones, speakers and other equipment when we check in at the port terminals but there isn’t any protective gear such as gloves or masks provided. Many of us are immigrants and we work hard so that people all over the country have the things they need on the store shelves and so our hospitals get the medical equipment they need.

We demand and deserve for our survival that the following is done immediately:

  • Provide drivers cash assistance right now including access to unemployment and other payments to replace our lost income.
  • Make sure we can take paid leave so that we are able to stay home when we are sick and take care of our families.
  • Suspend all payment requirements for truck loans, leases and insurance.
  • Provide free Covid-19 testing and treatment for all drivers because most of us do not have health insurance.
  • Provide us masks, gloves and other personal protective gear.
  • Wipe down and disinfect the speakers, phones and other shared equipment after each person uses it.
  • Provide hand washing stations, hand sanitizer, and clean bathrooms at all port facilities.
  • Enforce social distancing at the ports.

Coronavirus News Clips

Port Drivers are essential workers and have been impacted by the health and safety concerns related to the coronavirus as well as the slowdown at the Ports of LA and Long Beach

AB-5 | Statement on preliminary injunction regarding truck drivers

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Thursday, Jan. 16, 2020

PRESS CONTACTS:

Teamsters Port Division Reacts to Preliminary Injunction Regarding Assembly Bill 5’s Application to California Truck Drivers

PORTS OF LOS ANGELES/LONG BEACH, CA – A U.S. District Court judge has issued a preliminary injunction in the case California Trucking Association, et al., v. Attorney General Xavier Becerra, et al., and International Brotherhood of Teamsters temporarily blocking application of AB-5’s ABC test. Click here to read the order.

The following is a statement from Julie Gutman Dickinson, local counsel to the Teamsters Port Division:

“We are not surprised by the Court’s decision to issue a preliminary injunction blocking application of AB-5’s ABC test to California truck drivers; however, the decision does not impact port and rail drivers’ fight for their employee rights and an end to systemic wage theft. The bottom line is that in every port trucker misclassification/wage theft case to date, misclassified California port truck drivers have been found to be employees NOT independent contractors under the California Borello test. It simply does not matter whether you apply the ABC test under Dynamex, AB-5, or the Borello test, they are employees under all tests. The Court’s preliminary injunction has no practical effect on the employee status of these drivers — they are clearly employees.

“In over 500 wage claim cases at the California DLSE, drivers have uniformly been found to be employees NOT independent contractors under the Borello test. There is not one case that I am aware of where any driver has been found to be an independent contractor under Borello. And in all private litigation I have participated in and am aware of, port and rail drivers have uniformly been found to be employees under the Borello test. Indeed the Ninth Circuit Court of appeals has made crystal clear that Borello is NOT preempted under the FAAA.

“The question of whether the ABC test is preempted will go through legal proceedings before there is any final determination. Even if ultimately prong B is found preempted, prongs A and C should remain intact as they have in other jurisdictions. Further, even if the ABC test as a whole were ultimately found to be preempted for interstate drivers, it would still be immaterial to the fact that these drivers have been uniformly found to be employees under Borello, a test that has definitely been determined NOT to be preempted.”

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Universal Fires Employee Drivers, Replaces with Misclassified Independent Contractors

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, December 23, 2019

PRESS CONTACTS:

Just days before Christmas and weeks before AB5 takes effect in California…

70 Employee Port Truck Drivers Fired; Told ‘Get Your Own Truck’ and Come Back to Work as An Independent Contractor

PORTS OF LOS ANGELES/LONG BEACH, CA – In direct and flagrant violation of California’s Assembly Bill 5, which unequivocally makes it illegal to misclassify California’s truck drivers as ‘independent contractors,’ multi-billion dollar logistics company Universal Logistics Holdings has fired up to 70 employee port and intermodal drivers in at least three subsidiaries – Universal Intermodal Services, Universal Truckload Services, and Roadrunner Intermodal Services. Drivers report that the company told them that if they buy their own trucks then they can come back to work as independent contractors.

Universal’s morally reprehensible action happens just weeks after 28 employee drivers at Universal Intermodal voted overwhelmingly to be represented by Long Beach-based Teamsters Local 848, all of which have now been fired. It appears they are being replaced by misclassified independent contractors, in flagrant violation of federal labor laws. Further, under Section 6 of California’s Assembly Bill 5 (AB5), “No provision of this measure shall permit an employer to reclassify an individual who was an employee on January 1, 2019, to an independent contractor due to this measure’s enactment.”

Tyler Ross, an employee driver at Universal Truckload, said, “I was let go just like that. It’s heartbreaking. I don’t know how I’m going to pay my rent; times are tough. This is really hard for me.”

Saul Zuniga, an employee driver at Universal Intermodal and new member of Teamsters Local 848, said, “They let us go right after we voted to form our union. It’s Christmas and we had plans. Now we’re not going to have enough money for the rent, let alone Christmas presents for our children. This is incredibly sad for us.”

Willie Davis, an employee driver at Universal’s Roadrunner subsidiary said, “I don’t know how I’m going to make ends meet. It’s Christmas and we’ve been absolutely blindsided. I don’t know why they would just let us go like this a few days before Christmas. It’s cruel.”

“Universal Logistics Holdings is the poster child for misclassification in California and across the United States and now they have doubled down on a business model that the State of California has clearly banned,” said Fred Potter, Vice President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Director of the Teamsters Port Division. “Our hearts go out to the drivers that were unlawfully fired just before Christmas and the Teamsters will not stop until this company complies with the law and these drivers – and their families – get justice.”

“The drivers at Universal Intermodal are the newest members of Teamsters Local 848 and we are family. An injury to Universal drivers is an injury to all and we will take strong legal action, hold Universal’s customers like Home Depot, Target, and TJ Maxx accountable, and take the fight to the streets to protect our Sisters and Brothers,” said Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 848.

Contributions to the Port Driver Hardship Fund can be made to Labor Community Services and mailed to:

Los Angeles County Federation of Labor, AFL-CIO
2130 W. James M. Wood Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90006

Background

Universal Logistics Holdings (ULH) has nearly $1.5 Billion in operating revenue and has recently purchased several trucking companies around the country, including Roadrunner Intermodal Services and drayage companies operating out of the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. One of these companies, Deco Logistics, which was formerly known as and still does business as Container Connection of Southern California (CCSC), is one of the largest drayage companies at the ports.

Universal’s Container Connection has one of the most extensive records of misclassification-related claims and findings of violations at the ports. Since 2013, CCSC has faced at least six labor and employment-related lawsuits in California Superior Court. In one of these lawsuits, a judge issued a final judgment in 2016 ordering CCSC to pay 11 truck drivers over $2.2 million in damages resulting from their misclassification as independent contractors. One of these lawsuits includes claims for wrongful termination and race discrimination and is still pending. The remaining lawsuits appear to have been settled, and in the cases where there were final judgments, they appear to have been satisfied after years of collections efforts.

The resolution of these cases only addressed past violations; if the underlying misclassification and wage theft continues – which it certainly appears to be continuing – then CCSC would continue to be in violation of employment laws and still open to future such claims.

  • CCSC has faced at least 12 wage claims filed by drivers with California’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE), also known as the Labor Commissioner’s Office.
  • Of these, at least eight are known to have resulted in final judgments amounting to $781,754.84 that the courts ordered CCSC to pay, after CCSC failed to pay or appeal the DLSE’ s awards in favor of the drivers. CCSC appears to have ultimately paid these final judgments after the Labor Commissioner carried out years of judgment enforcement efforts, culminating in a Stop Work Order.
  • Again, by ultimately satisfying those judgments, CCSC only paid what it was determined to have owed for these individual past violations. The payment of the judgments alone did not change the underlying practice that led to the findings.

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 Universal 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 Universal 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

 

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CA Trucking Association lawsuit perpetuates misclassification and wage theft

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 13, 2019

PRESS CONTACTS:

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

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XPO Drivers File New Claims In Wake of AB5

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

November 12, 2019

PRESS CONTACTS:

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.

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L.A. City Council Unanimously Demands Retailers Clean Up Their Supply Chain

For Immediate Release

Wednesday, October 22, 2019

PRESS CONTACTS:

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.

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NJ EDA Needs to Suspend NFI’s $80 Mil Tax Break

For Immediate Release
June 19, 2019 

Media Contact: Kara Deniz, (202) 497-6610, [email protected]

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.

For more information on the port truck drivers’ and warehouse workers’ campaign, visit www.JusticeForPortDrivers.org, like us at www.facebook.com/Justice4PortDrivers, and follow us on Twitter @PortDriverUnion.

 

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