Teamsters, NFI Workers, Community Allies Speak Out at NJEDA Board Meeting; Deliver Petition Calling for Freeze of NFI’s Tax Giveaways
Kara DenizEmail: [email protected] Phone: (202) 497-6610
(TRENTON, N.J.) – Today, Teamsters and NFI workers called on the NJEDA Board at its monthly meeting to rescind tax breaks to NFI, a lawbreaking company that stands to benefit from nearly $80 million in tax breaks at the expense of New Jersey taxpayers through the Grow NJ Program which is under intense scrutiny.
Teamsters International Vice President At Large and Port Division Director Fred Potter joined NFI/Cal Cartage Express port truck drivers Jesus Maldonado and Jose Garcia, and representatives from a number of worker and community advocacy organizations, in calling on the NJEDA to freeze NFI’s tax breaks.
“NFI lied in its application to get state benefits. NFI failed to disclose its prior conviction for three counts of wire fraud, and lawsuits that were pending at the time of its application alleging wage and hour violations. This is a company that violates the law and workers’ rights and has stolen workers’ wages. NFI doesn’t deserve a tax giveaway,” Potter said. “This is a company that has a criminal history and avoids paying taxes and what it owes workers. Why should this company be rewarded with millions in tax breaks off the backs of 55,000 New Jersey Teamsters and the residents of this state? Now is the time for leadership. We urge you to take this opportunity to rescind NFI’s tax windfall.”
Jesus Maldonado has worked as a port truck driver at NFI/Cal Cartage Express in California for 10 years and says he has been exploited the entire time he has worked for the company.
“We’re only asking for what’s fair. We’re asking for a living wage, to be properly classified as employees and to have dignity and respect on the job. We have a petition with over a thousand signatures supporting us in this fight. NFI/Cal Cartage Express abuses its work force, yet gets rewarded with $80 million in tax breaks. We call on the NJEDA to take action and stop rewarding lawbreakers,” Maldonado said.
“I, too, have experienced the same abuse, intimidation and misclassification at NFI/Cal Cartage Express, like my co-worker Jesus described,” Garcia said. “This company has stolen millions in wages from workers and is lining their pockets off our hard work. I’m here to speak out against this abuse and ask the NJEDA to stop rewarding this company,” Garcia said.
To view and sign on to the petition Teamsters and NFI workers delivered to the NJEDA, visit: http://ibt.io/NFIpetition.
Representatives from Working Families Alliance, Make the Road, Workers United and SEIU 32BJ also called on the NJEDA to freeze NFI’s tax breaks.
Rescinding NFI’s tax breaks would not be unprecedented. Potter noted that another corporation with a large Grow NJ reward was recently found to have serious deficiencies in its application, and the NJEDA took decisive action, suspending its tax breaks while a full investigation could be completed.
A June 17 NJEDA Task Force report validated concerns raised by the Teamsters over NFI’s tax breaks.
Those concerns were raised by the Teamsters in a letter sent to New Jersey Attorney General Gurbir Grewal and NJEDA Ethics Liaison Officer Frederick Cole urging them to investigate, prosecute and sanction NFI in connection with its application through the Grow NJ program. The letter was signed by Potter, who is also President of Teamsters Local 469 in Hazlet, N.J.
In the letter, the Teamsters provide evidence that demonstrates NFI, a national third-party logistics provider headquartered in New Jersey, lied in its application for taxpayer funds.
The letter states that NFI’s history of violating workers’ rights should bar it from receiving state financial assistance. The company has violated laws governing hours of labor and minimum wage standards, avoided paying legally required overtime compensation, and illegally misclassified hundreds of port workers in California by claiming they are independent contractors. By misclassifying its employees, the company avoided its responsibility to cover social security, workers’ compensation and other business expenses.
As a transportation and logistics company, NFI must comply with laws governing “occupations of regulated industries,” as referenced in the NJEDA’s regulations. In the year preceding NFI’s Grow NJ application, the company was cited for more than 100 violations by the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration. During that year alone, NFI violated driving safety standards, state and local speed limit laws, and hours-of-service standards, which are intended to limit the operation of commercial vehicles by drivers who are sick or tired.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
For more information on the port truck drivers’ and warehouse workers’ campaign, visit www.JusticeForPortDrivers.org, like us at www.facebok.com/Justice4PortDrivers, and follow us on Twitter @PortDriverUnion.