By Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa
Published in the Huffington Post, May 1, 2016
This morning in the upscale suburbs of Connecticut, rank and file union leaders from a continent away are joining U.S. truck drivers and the Teamsters outside a shareholders’ meeting for XPO Logistics to take the company to task for its treatment of workers both here and abroad.
It is a historic uniting of U.S. and European workers and unions, brought on by a company that is keeping its workers and investors in the dark. XPO, new owners of Con-way Freight and port trucking companies Pacer Cartage and Harbor Rail Transport, are the nation’s second largest logistics company after UPS. But it’s mismanaging the integration of its new businesses, which is creating significant operational and financial risk for the company and its investors. Just as importantly, XPO is mistreating former Con-way workers by closing terminals, subcontracting out work and laying off employees.
Corporate greed is at the center of the dispute. XPO port and rail drivers are fighting company wage theft in excess of $200 million because of persistent misclassification as independent contractors, a scheme the National Labor Relations Board ruled is designed to deny workers of their legal right to form a union. And after settling multiple lawsuits in the company’s last mile division, XPO is now facing a new class action lawsuit from misclassified drivers at 3PD, valued in court documents at $75 million.
In Europe, XPO workers are experiencing similar issues. The company broke its promise not to lay off any workers in France for at least 18 months after the company purchased a competitor. French workers and their unions have been fighting back against XPO’s disrespect, lies and attempts to slash jobs. Similar struggles with XPO are taking place in Great Britain, Spain, Belgium and the Netherlands.
The Teamsters have been standing up for workers. Since 2014, the Teamsters have been working with Con-way workers to organize terminals and build an internal network of union activists. Workers from successful campaigns in Texas, California and Florida faced and fought abhorrent corporate intimidation tactics. The culture of fear and uncertainty is still being wielded towards XPO workers.
And the fight continues. The Teamsters are in the midst of national days-of-action to let workers know they have the option of joining a union and gaining a voice in their working lives. XPO/Con-way workers are hearing that message and expressing active interest in the effort.
Not surprisingly, XPO executives are not thrilled about the Teamsters’ outreach to its employees. The company, led by CEO Bradley Jacobs, seems hell-bent on trying to follow the typical Wall Street method of purchase, gut and sell at a huge profit; workers, families and their livelihoods be damned. Jacobs followed the same method previously in the oil, waste management and equipment rental industries.
Well, this union and our European brothers and sisters aren’t going to sit back and let that happen. Last month, the Teamsters joined eight other unions at a forum hosted by the International Transport Workers Federation to discuss strategy, and now we’re implementing it.
Together, these unions won’t allow XPO to just focus on short-term profits that will lead to a loss of employment, lower pay and benefits, wage theft and the slashing of safety standards. Instead, we’re standing up to their denial of workplace rights.
XPO is involved with port, freight and warehouse workers. They are linking together the transportation of goods from ships to stores. But the Teamsters won’t permit them to drag down their workers by not following the rules and not allowing them to organize. We invite you to find out more about the campaign by visiting its website or Facebook page.
Bradley Jacobs has made his billions. His workers are asking to have a voice in their future and the opportunity to form their union without intimidation. That shouldn’t be too much to ask. Workers should count at XPO!