PORT OF LOS ANGELES, Calif. and BORON, Calif. and SALT LAKE CITY and LONDON, Sept. 12, 2019 /PRNewswire/ -- Port truck drivers employed by NFI Industries' California Cartage Express (CCX) subsidiary, whom the company illegally classifies as "independent contractors," walked off the job early Monday morning to protest unfair and illegal discrimination for aspiring to form a union at their employer. Picket lines are extended from the CCX port-adjacent yard in Wilmington, CA, and along the routes of CCX trucks, including at the Port of Los Angeles and the Rio Tinto Mine in Boron, CA, where port traffic is slowing down to a trickle.
"We're on strike because of NFI/Cal Cartage Express' unfair labor practices. Instead of giving us six-month contracts like usual, those of us supporting the union and taking legal action are receiving one-month contracts," said Jose Garcia, a striking worker for NFI/Cal Cartage Express.
Shortly after the strike began in Los Angeles, an Administrative Law Judge for the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled that owners and managers of California Cartage Warehouse – a sister company of CCX that is also owned by NFI – are guilty of a myriad of unfair labor practices, including threatening and intimidating workers during a union election at the facility. The judge ordered NFI to mail a notice to all current and former employees detailing its violations of the National Labor Relations Act and committing to cease and desist from those violations.
On Tuesday, misclassified port truck drivers at the ports – specifically those employed by XPO Port Services – had a victory in the California courts, where a judge affirmed the decision by the California Labor Commission to reimburse four misclassified drivers for roughly $800,000 for wages stolen due to their illegal classifications as "independent contractors."
Also on Tuesday, the California Senate passed Assembly Bill 5, which – if signed by Governor Newsom – will crack down on the illegal use of "independent contractors" in California.
Picketing workers, accompanied by community and religious leaders from the Los Angeles and Salt Lake City areas, along with members from Teamsters Local 222, traveled and led a delegation to Rio Tinto's U.S. headquarters in Salt Lake City. The delegation delivered a petition with over 5,000 signatures asking Rio Tinto to sever its relationship with NFI/Cal Cartage on account of their lawbreaking and their non-compliance with Rio Tinto's Supplier Code of Conduct. Click here to watch a video of the delegation.
"I'm glad we were able to share our stories of struggle at NFI/Cal Cartage," said Flavio Acosta, a striking driver who traveled to Salt Lake City. "I hope that Rio Tinto can find it in their hearts to take our stories seriously and to do the right thing. We will not stop taking action until NFI/Cal Cartage starts following the law and does right by us workers."
"I traveled to Salt Lake City this week to call on Rio Tinto to be fair to all of the workers, regardless of whether they work directly for the company or as a supplier. If you want to do business in America then you must comply with the laws of the land and give workers their fair share," said Nelson L. Castorillo, Senior Pastor, First United Methodist Church of Wilmington, CA.
On Wednesday, Teamster leaders and Gustavo Villa, a striking NFI/Cal Cartage driver, were in London, England, to meet with Rio Tinto executives at their headquarters to highlight the actions taking place in California and Utah, reiterating the message to drop their contract with known lawbreaker, NFI/Cal Cartage Express.
"I came to London in April to speak at Rio Tinto's Annual General Meeting and I'm here again to remind them of what's happening to us at the hands of NFI/Cal Cartage Express," said Gustavo Villa, a striking NFI/California Cartage Express driver who traveled to London, England, to deliver a message to CCX's customer Rio Tinto Mines. "NFI/Cal Cartage Express' misclassification has denied us worker benefits and protections and the right to form our union for far too long. Misclassification and wage theft keep us and our families in poverty. Enough is enough."
"The activities of this week, including the strike and delegations to Rio Tinto at the ports, in Boron, Salt Lake City, and London, have been a huge success for continuing to bring justice to struggling NFI/Cal Cartage workers," said International Vice President and Teamsters Port Division Director Fred Potter.
NFI/Cal Cartage Express employs their drivers under an illegal scheme whereby they misclassify the workers as independent contractors when in fact they are employees under law. This unlawful practice, which was the subject of an investigative series published by USA Today, leads to massive wage theft and denial of other basic workers' rights and has been heavily documented across the ports. This illegal practice, in addition to other lawbreaking at NFI Industries, makes NFI/California Cartage Express non-compliant with Rio Tinto's code of conduct.
Read the NFI Final and Pending Violations Summary here: http://bit.ly/NFICCX
These drivers, whom the company treats like employees but illegally classifies as "independent contractors," have persistently fought for their rights in the courts, in the hallowed boardrooms of Rio Tinto Mines, and on the picket line at the ports. Specifically, CCX drivers have:
- Gone on strike four times in the last several years (this is CCX drivers' 5th strike);
- Traveled to the United Kingdom to speak with Rio Tinto's executives and shareholders to demand that the company enforce its Supplier Code of Conduct;
- Filed at least 20 wage and hour claims with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE);
- Filed multiple lawsuits in courts and complaints with government agencies for violations of state and local laws; and
- Filed complaints with the City of Los Angeles Office of Wage Standards for violating the City's minimum wage and failure to provide paid sick days.
Drivers at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have been challenging their misclassification as "independent contractors" and exercising their rights as employees. They have been engaging in collective action at the courts, in their truck yards and at the ports – including 16 strikes in the last five years – and bringing their cases before government agency officials. It is estimated that there have been legal misclassification claims pursued on behalf of at least half of the misclassified drivers at the port— either by drivers filing individual wage claims or being part of class action lawsuits.
Read an overview of port trucking misclassification cases here.
- Justice for Port Drivers: Barb Maynard, (323) 351-9321; firstname.lastname@example.org
- International Brotherhood of Teamsters: Kara Deniz, (202) 202-497-6610; email@example.com
SOURCE Justice for Port Drivers