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Report: Logistics Giant Exposed for Unsafe COVID-19 Response, Global Worker Abuses

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Logistics Giant Servicing Amazon, Walmart, Target Exposed for Unsafe COVID-19 Response, Global Worker Abuses

Workers at XPO Logistics report unsafe working conditions, wage theft, misclassification and dangerous  pandemic response in analysis of company’s operations in more than six countries

LONDON — XPO Logistics (NYSE: XPO), a major logistics company that Amazon, Walmart, Target and other popular retailers have relied on to service customers worldwide throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, has been putting its global workforce at heightened risk of contracting and spreading the virus, says a new report released Wednesday by an international coalition of labor groups. 

XPO Logistics markets itself as a global leader in providing transport, logistics and last mile delivery services. It provides these services to internationally-recognized companies, including Amazon, ASOS, Home Depot, IKEA, Nestle, Peloton, Starbucks, Target, Verizon and Walmart. XPO operates in 30 countries with 97,000 employees and 1,506 locations. XPO reported more than $16 billion in total revenue in 2019, and its billionaire CEO, Bradley Jacobs, made $26 million the same year.

The report is the first to examine the logistics company’s treatment of thousands of workers worldwide. In addition to revealing a negligent COVID-19 response and deadly outbreaks in its facilities, the report details how XPO subjects its employees to wage theft and exploitation, hazardous work environments riddled with health and safety violations, pregnancy and gender discrimination, sexual harassment and extreme anti-union tactics.

“Deaths. Discrimination. Wage theft. Sexual Harassment. Health and safety violations. COVID-19 exposure. The list of allegations that XPO has to answer goes on and on, crossing borders to countries spanning the globe,” said Stephen Cotton, General Secretary at International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF). “XPO may be under the radar, but its far-reaching human rights abuses must be exposed. XPO’s workers are risking it all during the pandemic with little support from the executives who are profiting off the backs of their labor. As a global union community we will hold XPO and its customers responsible for the health and safety of its workforce.” 

The XPO Global Union Family — composed of the International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), the European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), along with other national unions — compiled the report after years of trying to work with XPO to improve its working conditions and as the pandemic raised concerns about the company’s lack of protections for workers. The report is based on surveys of and interviews with employees, financial disclosures from the company and news reports. 

A summary of key findings is below.

Failed COVID-19 response

Many well-known brands that have allowed people to stay at home comfortably and safely have gotten public scrutiny for their COVID-19 response. XPO, whose essential workforce has helped keep these companies operating, has stayed under the radar while putting its employees at risk. Across the globe, employees cite inadequate access to PPE and a lack of basic cleaning and social distancing measures.

“Even after our manager tested positive for COVID-19, there aren’t morning temperature checks, mask wearing hasn’t been enforced, and we don’t have cleaning products to sanitize shared trucks,” said Bryon Wilkinson, a Pennsylvania-based XPO freight driver who delivers shipments to Walmart and Sam’s Club. “I worry about contracting COVID-19 every time I step into my truck, especially since my wife works in a nursing home and I’m high-risk. Your Amazon Prime packages arrive on time and your Walmart has toilet paper and hand sanitizer because of XPO workers. We are out there delivering goods to help people get through this crisis, and XPO can’t deliver basic protections for those of us risking it all.”   

Wage theft and exploitation through the misclassification of workers

Misclassification of truck drivers at XPO is rampant in the U.S. and Europe.

Health and safety violations create dangerous work environments

In the U.S., at least three XPO workers have died at work in shocking incidents. In Europe there have been numerous complaints about horrifying working conditions for warehouse workers and drivers. 

Rampant pregnancy discrimination, gender discrimination and sexual harassment

XPO enables a toxic workplace culture globally of gender and pregnancy discrimination and sexual harassment.

Widespread anti-union tactics

XPO Logistics maintains an aggressive anti-union stance in the U.S., while workers in Spain with union affiliation have been discriminated against and workers in Switzerland denied legal rights to collectively bargain: 

A blueprint to stop rampant worker abuse

The report authors outline actions XPO can take to provide safe working environments for employees and set new safety standards for the logistics industry as it navigates the COVID-19 pandemic. They are calling on XPO to:

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The XPO Global Union Family is led by The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF), The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF), and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), and includes the following unions and worker organizations: ABVV-BTB (Belgium), ACV-CSC Transcom (Belgium), CGT Transports (France), FeSMC-UGT (Spain), FGTE-CFDT (France), GMB (Britain), Uiltrasporti (Italy), Unia (Switzerland), Unite (Britain) and UNSA Transport (France). 

The International Transport Workers’ Federation (ITF) is a democratic global union federation of nearly 700 transport workers trade unions representing around 20 million workers in 150 countries. The ITF works to improve the lives of transport workers globally, encouraging and organising international solidarity among its network of affiliates. The ITF represents the interests of transport workers’ unions in bodies that take decisions affecting jobs, employment conditions and safety in the transport industry.

The European Transport Workers’ Federation (ETF) embraces transport trade unions from the European Union, the European Economic Area, and Central and Eastern Europe. The ETF represents more than 5 million transport workers from more than 200 transport unions and 41 European countries.

Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.