(HAZLET, N.J.) – Today, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters sent a formal request to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and New Jersey Economic Development Authority Ethics Liaison Officer Frederick Cole to investigate, prosecute and sanction NFI, L.P., in connection with its application for nearly $80 million in state benefits through the Grow NJ tax incentive program. The letter was signed by Fred Potter, Teamsters International Vice President At Large and President of Teamsters Local 469 in Hazlet, N.J.
“There are 55,000 Teamsters who live and pay taxes in New Jersey while working in critical industries, including transportation, logistics and public services. New Jersey Teamsters believe that our state’s limited resources should not be used to benefit irresponsible, law-breaking employers,” Potter said. “NFI should be prosecuted and barred from receiving any financial assistance from the state, including the nearly $80 million it currently stands to gain through the Grow NJ program.”
In the letter, the Teamsters provide evidence that demonstrates 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 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.
Just months before NFI submitted its Grow New Jersey application, the U.S. Department of Labor announced the company was required to pay over $1 million to 357 employees to remedy its numerous violations of the law. The $1 million represented wages NFI had unlawfully denied to its dispatchers and yard spotters when it failed to compensate them for overtime work. The Department of Labor required NFI to reclassify hundreds of its employees to ensure they received overtime protections, and hire a compliance officer, among other remedies.
As a transportation and logistics company, NFI must comply with laws governing “occupations of regulated industries,” as referenced in the EDA’s regulations. In the year preceding NFI’s Grow NJ application, the company was cited for more than 100 violations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. During that year alone, NFI violated driving safety standards, state and local speed limit laws, and hours-of-service standards, which are intended to limit the operation of commercial vehicles by drivers who are sick or tired.
To read the letter containing a detailed list of NFI’s illegal activity and labor violations, go to: https://bit.ly/2Zj0Paa.
“NFI’s criminally false statements warrant prosecution, and those statements, along with the company’s history of violating workers’ rights should also bar it from receiving financial assistance from the EDA,” Potter said in the letter. “NFI’s willful misstatements about its criminal history, and about litigation challenging its fairness as an employer, compel the conclusion not only that NFI is an unworthy recipient of public funds, but that it is a criminal actor defrauding the state.”
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.facebok.com/Justice4PortDrivers, and follow us on Twitter @PortDriverUnion.