City and Port Have Opportunity to Seek New Tenant That Will Follow the Law and Avoid Labor Disruption
(PORT OF LOS ANGELES, Calif.) – After three months of operation without a valid lease, NFI Industries, the largest trucking and warehousing company serving America’s leading port complex, has announced its intention to vacate property owned by the Port of Los Angeles.
This decision comes three months after the LA City Council unanimously revoked NFI’s lease in the wake of the seventh strike at the site, calling upon the Harbor Commission to ensure the lease included provisions to prevent future labor disruptions.
It is unknown at this time if NFI will attempt to negotiate a lease for its two trucking subsidiaries, California Cartage Express (CCX) and K&R Transportation, to remain on the property. Both entities are the subject of massive litigation and regulatory action because of NFI’s illegal business model that relies on misclassifying truck drivers as “independent contractors” (see below).
NFI’s decision to leave the property rather than bring the company into compliance with all local, state, and federal laws presents a much-needed opportunity for the City and Port of Los Angeles to seek a tenant that will follow the laws to avoid the labor disruptions that have plagued the Port property.
NFI warehouse workers and truck drivers have endeavored for years to improve their working conditions, filing multiple claims and carrying out seven strikes in the past three years. However, the company has continuously violated labor laws, resulting in multiple unfair labor practice (ULP) charges and National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decisions.
In 2016, workers at the NFI/California Cartage Warehouse held an NLRB election in hopes of joining the Teamsters. In the course of that election, the company broke numerous laws largely casting serious doubt on the legitimacy of that election, including unlawfully threatening and intimidating workers and engaging in coercion, surveillance and retaliation of workers during the election. Workers were unlawfully disciplined and terminated for union activity.
Following an investigation that was conducted, a trial was held, and a decision is currently pending.
“We have always welcomed the opportunity to have a second election at the warehouse; however, it is clear by their behavior that the company does not want to have a fair, honest and lawful election,” said Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 848. “I am amazed that the company is willing to turn tail and run away rather than sit down with us and have a conversation about working out our differences."
The following is a statement from Teamsters Port Division Director, Fred Potter:
“NFI should act responsibly and stop pointing fingers at the Teamsters when it’s NFI that has continuously and persistently broken the law. If the company is unwilling to follow the law and play by the rules, and in so doing so puts the Port’s proprietary interests at risk, then they are wise to vacate the property to make room for a company that will follow the law.
(Refer below for a comprehensive list of regulatory action and litigation at NFI/California Cartage.)
“The Teamsters have had a demonstrable track record of attempting to work collaboratively with NFI/Cal Cartage executive leadership - first under the ownership of the Curry Family and now under the ownership of NFI Industries - to bring the company’s trucking and warehousing operations into compliance with the law.
“NFI management has rejected every single effort to resolve outstanding issues raised by port truck drivers and warehouse workers employed at the Wilmington property.
“The recidivist behavior of the company has hurt workers, their families and the communities in which they reside, and perpetuated an unfair and illegal business model at America’s largest port complex. As a result, the Los Angeles City Attorney has filed a lawsuit against three NFI trucking subsidiaries and the workers have been left no recourse but to strike seven times over the past three years.”