LA Port Truck Drivers Seek Unionization

By City News Service
City News Service
City News Service
January 20, 2022Updated: January 20, 2022

LOS ANGELES—The International Brotherhood of Teamsters announced Jan. 19 that Southern California port and rail truck drivers, including those who operate at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles, have filed for an election to form a union.

The drivers allege that XPO Logistics—a freight transportation company based in Greenwich, Connecticut—misclassifies them as independent contractors, denying them health insurance, paid sick leave, overtime pay, and the ability to form a union.

Last year, XPO Logistics settled two class-action lawsuits, paying a total of $30 million, to contracted drivers at the ports who said they were paid less than a minimum wage by the company.

XPO Logistics told City News Service that it has about 12,000 full- time truck drivers in the United States, and uses about 360 independent contractors in California. The company also said many of its contractors “prefer the contractor work model, given the flexibility it provides to set their own schedule and choose their own work.

“We believe we adhere to all federal, state and local laws, and we believe we properly classify all individuals and businesses that perform work on behalf of XPO,” the company stated.

According to the Teamsters, the drivers claim they should be classified as employees with the right to unionize.

“My fellow drivers and I are proud of the work we do every day to keep the supply chain moving and provide for our communities. Today, we’re proud to take the next step in forming a union to give us a voice on the job and fight for better pay and benefits,” Domingo Avalos, a driver at the XPO facility in Commerce, said in a statement provided by the Teamsters.

“Our company, XPO Logistics, tries to silence us by ignoring our demand for a union and by keeping us misclassified as independent contractors. But when we win our union, we will force XPO to listen — because we know together our voice is more powerful than any big corporation,” Avalos continued.

Drivers from XPO’s Commerce and San Diego facilities are seeking to join the Teamsters through Teamsters Local 848, which operates in the greater Los Angeles area, and Teamsters Local 542, in San Diego. The Teamsters said the drivers are essential links in the U.S. supply chain as they move goods out of the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles.

“The Teamsters are proud to stand with brave drivers across California who are coming together to demand the respect, pay and dignity on the job they deserve,” said James Hoffa, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

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