Union Members, Allies Take Company Head-On at Rallies
As the organizing campaign at XPO Logistics, Inc. continues to gain momentum with more elections being filed, Teamsters and their allies have confronted management recently during two raucous rallies.
In December, Teamsters rallied outside XPO’s headquarters to denounce a compensation plan that could provide a windfall stock award for CEO Bradley Jacobs worth $110 million at current stock price levels. Jacobs and the board didn’t show up to field workers’ and shareholders’ questions and concerns over the incentive pay plan.
Then, in late February, more than 100 Teamsters and their allies held a rally outside a shipping conference to demand that Jacobs end his company’s abhorrent mistreatment of workers in the United States and across the globe. Jacobs was delivering the keynote address at the 17th Annual TPM Conference while the rally was taking place.
Meanwhile, on behalf of workers in Trenton, N.J. and in Aurora and Elgin, Ill., the union has filed for three separate representational elections, boosting the campaign’s continued momentum.
No to XPO Greed
Regarding the stock plan, XPO shareholders voted to approve the plan which reserves 3.4 million new shares and increases the individual annual equity award limit from 500,000 shares to 2.5 million.
Teamsters gathered nearby holding signs that read: “No XPO Greed” and “eXPOsed: The Truth About Global Greed.”
“We are not surprised at the company’s action, which was basically a rubber-stamp approval of Jacobs’ clubby board’s plan to enrich him on the backs of XPO workers,” said Ken Hall, Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer.
Jacobs could be awarded up to 2.5 million shares at any time, worth $110 million at today’s prices. Meanwhile, XPO workers face increasing health insurance costs while coverage is being slashed, and workers have no retirement security. Nearly 500 workers at six locations have already formed their union as Teamsters.
In the letter to XPO Lead Independent Director Michael Jesselson sent in early December, Hall stated, “We believe the board would have ample room to incentivize and retain executives with a lower limit, particularly considering the new plan also doubles the maximum, annual cash award payable to any individual to $10 million.
Moreover, with CEO Jacobs already holding 19 percent of common shares, it is not clear to us that large equity awards are required to retain and incentivize his services.”
“Under no conceivable scenario is a payout of 2.5 million shares to CEO Jacobs, the company’s largest shareholder, justifiable,” Hall said. “The board has lost sight of one of its prime responsibilities—establishing sound executive pay practices that incentivize performance and protect the interests of shareholders.”
Confronting the CEO
At the shipping conference in late February, XPO freight driver Ryan Janota said he wanted to confront Jacobs to tell him about the problems workers face.
“When we raised concerns with management we were ignored, so we decided to organize,” Janota said. “Instead of respecting our rights, XPO spent a fortune on high-priced union-busting consultants to try and silence us. It didn’t work and we elected to join the Teamsters so Bradley Jacobs will have to listen!”
XPO freight and warehouse workers are demanding that the company respect their federally protected right to organize, and to stop threatening and intimidating workers, and to bargain contracts in good faith. XPO port and rail drivers are fighting company wage theft, which has led to numerous wage and hour claims, federal charges and protests across European and U.S. ports. Workers also want the company to address safety issues at its warehouses, and to stop misusing contingent workers rather than providing the full-time jobs communities need, among other issues.
“Because XPO treats us like employees but pays us as ‘independent contractors’ and deducts their truck expenses from our paychecks, there are many weeks when we don’t even earn the minimum wage,” said Luis Meza, an XPO port driver serving the twin ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. “This is abuse and that’s why my co-workers and I have filed lawsuits against XPO.”
Jacobs refused to meet with workers yet again—he has ignored the workers repeatedly.
“Mr. Jacobs didn’t meet with us, but I know that the Teamsters will keep standing with us, fighting for all XPO workers,” said Jose Ramirez, a freight driver from Aurora. “Our fight for justice continues.”
In mid-April, XPO drivers in Trenton, New Jersey voted to join Local 701, with more filings expected in the future.
“XPO workers continue to approach the Teamsters seeking fairness, respect and having a voice on the job,” said Ernie Soehl, Director of the Teamsters National Freight Division. “They know that the only way to win these improvements is to organize and negotiate a Teamster contract.”