(CALIFORNIA) – Port truck drivers for XPO Logistics Inc. who are on strike held rallies in Los Angeles and San Diego and demanded the company end the rampant day-to-day abuse of drivers. The actions come on the heels of a breaking victory as the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement recognized a striking driver as in fact employed by XPO and determined the company owes him $123,074.43 in back pay. Hundreds of port truck drivers from XPO, as well as NFI Industries, walked off the job on Monday.
XPO Logistics is a $15 billion company which moves products for Amazon.com Inc., Toyota Motor Corp., Puma and other major brands around the world. The drivers say that they are improperly labeled “independent contractors” since they cannot drive for any other company but XPO. Yesterday’s ruling by the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement is a major victory for workers at the logistics giant who say this label cheats them out of their benefits and allows the company room to commit wage theft and fire workers who practice their right to organize.
“XPO believes it can get away with misclassifying us as ‘independent contractors’ and that no one will notice,” said Rodolfo Dominguez, the XPO port truck driver who is owed back pay and speaking out at the strike line in Los Angeles. “But yesterday’s victory to recognize me as an employee makes it clear that’s not the case. I hope that my case serves as an example to the company and they know we won’t stop speaking out until XPO stops cheating us out of fair pay and workplace rights.”
At the rallies, hundreds of port truck drivers and their supporters gathered to call on executives to treat employees fairly and end the practice of misclassification and retaliation. The strikers were joined by other XPO workers who have been speaking out about the company’s abusive practices — including a warehouse worker from Memphis, TN who has been challenging the company on systemic sexual harassment.
Also today, New Jersey-based XPO freight drivers filed for representation with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT). The group of 24 XPO drivers in Cinnaminson, NJ are working to form their union so they can address the issues of better and affordable health insurance, retirement security and a voice on the job.
Port truck drivers for XPO have been challenging misclassification and exercising their rights as employees by engaging in collective action in the courts, in their truck yards, and at the ports – including 15 strikes in the last five years. This past spring, XPO drivers and dockworkers in Miami held a successful unfair labor practice (ULP) strike and drew the line against the company’s anti-union behavior. U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders has intervened on the drivers behalf and sent a letter calling on President Donald Trump to audit the industry and ban trucking companies like XPO with labor violations from receiving federal contracts. Sen. Sanders also released a video on the plight of XPO truck drivers. Additionally, USA Today recently exposed that XPO has continued to receive taxpayer dollars from federal agencies, despite being found guilty of widespread labor infractions that include wage theft and using debt as leverage to trap drivers in their jobs.
“Whether you’re a driver like me or in a package facility in the south, the message XPO sends workers is that you don’t matter. Your time, your safety, your quality of life is not important,” said Carlos Ortega, a striking port truck driver for XPO Logistics at the San Diego rally who has worked for the company for two years. “I was terrified to walk off the job because I have a family to help support, but the company needs to hear from me and the many other workers they rob every day.”
The port truck drivers’ strike comes as XPO workers across the country in warehouses and other occupations have been speaking out about the terrible workplace conditions.
Just yesterday, XPO warehouse workers in Memphis marched on the boss at the company’s Verizon facility and delivered a letter from Memphis NAACP and other community groups calling for an end to health and safety issues, misconduct, discrimination and sexual harassment. Last month, workers in Memphis filed a complaint with the Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration detailing instances of extreme heat leading to dizziness, dehydration and fainting, prompting the agency to begin an investigation at the warehouse. In June, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration opened an investigation after two workers were crushed to death at an XPO Logistics warehouse in Lockport, New York. October 2017 saw the tragic death of XPO worker Linda Neal, after her supervisor denied her request to leave and seek medical attention from a doctor or take a break when she repeatedly expressed not feeling well.