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TEAMSTERS: PORT TRUCK DRIVERS ARE EMPLOYEES, NOT ‘INDEPENDENT CONTRACTORS,’ FEDS RULE

| June 14, 2022

In Landmark Decision, XPO Logistics/STG Workers in California Win the Right to Unionize

More than 250 misclassified XPO/STG port truck drivers in Southern California are, in fact, company employees who have the legal right to organize for better wages, benefits and working conditions, a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) ruled.

The precedent-setting decision, handed down by the regional director of NLRB’s Region 21, marks the first time an election has been ordered for port truck drivers who are misclassified as independent contractors when they are actual employees. It paves the way not only for other port drivers but for potentially millions of misclassified workers in other industries to be properly classified as employees of the companies that employ them.

Worker misclassification — or the misclassification of employees as “independent contractors” — is a deceptive tool used by employers to deny guaranteed wages, paid health care, retirement benefits and access to protected labor rights that enable workers to unionize.

“Corrupt companies like XPO/STG have long hidden behind the independent contractor model so they can rob workers in the shadows. This has to be called out and it must end on a global scale. This ruling may finally be the light that exposes such corruption and puts a stop to it,” said Sean M. O’Brien, Teamsters General President. “The Teamsters and other labor unions must remain vigilant on cracking down on corporate greed. This victory is another reminder that we can’t give up the fight. It’s about treating workers fairly, paying them an honest wage, and giving them the benefits they’ve earned so they can care for their families.”

The NLRB has issued previous federal and state legal decisions that recognized drivers as employees and not independent contractors. Monday’s decision, however, is unique in that it also orders an election for the port drivers in a combined unit made up of truck owners and non-truck owners at two Southern California facilities, Commerce and San Diego. These XPO drivers also secured a major victory in October 2021 when they achieved a $29.5 million class action settlement for claims based on their misclassification.

Earlier this year, the Teamsters filed unfair labor practice charges against XPO/STG, alleging the company violated the law by misclassifying drivers to prevent unionization; refusing to recognize and bargain with the Teamsters after a solid majority of employees made clear their desire to unionize; retaliating against key union supporters who testified at a case hearing; and engaging in a relentless campaign of unfair labor practices designed to threaten, coerce, and spread misinformation to drivers about the Teamsters and organizing. These charges remain pending.

“These port truck drivers are worked to the bone for little pay, few benefits, and even fewer rights on the job — all so the profits can keep funneling up to the top. This is what the independent contractor model sets out to achieve for these companies,” said Eric Tate, Port Coordinator for the Teamsters Freight Division and Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 848. “But Teamsters don’t quit, and these hardworking drivers didn’t quit either. They’ve been fighting for their right to organize for years. Now they finally have a decision that honors the work they do, orders an election, and gives them the right to unionize, which is the only way working people in this country can protect their futures.”

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