Rio Tinto Chairman Publicly Agrees to Investigate and Take Action to Enforce Code of Conduct
(LONDON AND PORT OF LOS ANGELES, Calif.) – On Wednesday, April 10, 2019, a delegation of contract truck drivers who haul borax from the Rio Tinto mines in Boron, Calif., to the Port of Los Angeles, together with Teamster leaders, attended the company’s Annual General Meeting in London, England. The drivers, who are employed by Rio Tinto’s contract drayage carrier California Cartage Express, a division of NFI Industries, attended the meeting with Teamster officials to demand an end to wage theft due to their misclassification as independent contractors (rather than employees) and enforcement of the Rio Tinto's Supplier Code of Conduct in their U.S. supply chain.
“It took tremendous courage for the Cal Cartage Express drivers to leave their families, travel to London, and confront the global mining giant Rio Tinto. The Teamsters are proud to be supporting these men in their fight for justice at America’s largest seaport, and heartened by Chairman Simon Thompson’s willingness to listen to them and take action,” said Fred Potter, Vice President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Director of the Teamsters Port Division. “The fact is that NFI Industries' subsidiary California Cartage Express, which hauls borax from the Rio Tinto Boron Mine to the Port of Los Angeles, has a demonstrable track record of violating Rio Tinto’s Code of Conduct. The hardworking truck drivers who haul this heavy cargo 150 miles from Boron to the harbor have experienced wage theft due to unlawful misclassification by their employer, Cal Cartage Express as independent contractors rather than employees. The Teamsters Union is committed to making certain that Rio Tinto enforces its Supplier Code of Conduct by committing to doing business only with trucking companies that align with Rio Tinto’s values.”
“We came before Rio Tinto’s Board of Directors and shareholders to bring light to the worker exploitation taking place in the company’s supply chain and told them why we believe that Rio Tinto must take swift action against this exploitation,” said Gustavo Villa, a port truck driver for Cal Cartage Express/NFI Industries.
“We’re not asking for a lot. We’re not asking to strike it rich. We’re only asking for what’s fair. We’re asking for a living wage, to be properly classified as employees. We want dignity and respect on the job. I traveled a long way to speak and I hope that by sharing my struggles the Board of Directors will open its eyes and see that injustice happening in Rio Tinto’s supply chain every day. Rio Tinto is not my employer, but they have the power to step in and stop this abuse,” said Jesus Maldonado, a port truck driver with Cal Cartage Express.
Rio Tinto is a global mining company headquartered in Melbourne, Australia. The Rio Tinto Boron Mine in Boron, California, is the largest borax mine in the world, producing “nearly half of the world’s supply of refined borate products.” (Source: riotinto.com). Borax, a commonly used mineral, is a component of many detergents, cosmetics and enamel glazes. Borate compounds are used to strengthen cellphone, computer, and television LCD screens to keep them from warping under high temperature.
Rio Tinto has a Supplier Code of Conduct that requires that its vendors uphold “fundamental human rights,” including, “Ensuring all work is freely chosen; without the use of forced or compulsory labour; ensuring fair remuneration and work conditions for all workers; promoting humane treatment and preventing harassment and unfair discrimination; and respecting workers’ rights to lawfully and peacefully form or join trade unions of their choosing and to bargain collectively.”
With the dedicated support from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, community, and faith allies, we are fighting to change the logistics industry so we can win justice for ourselves and our families. We haul and handle our country’s imports and exports for retail companies, for manufacturers, and for the U.S. Military. We are proud to be professional truck drivers and proud of the service we provide. Without us, America would stop.