A group of Southern California truck drivers for one of the largest trucking companies globally is looking to form a union, amid industrywide labor volatility roiling the supply chain.
Port and rail truck drivers for Greenwich, Conn.-based XPO Logistics Inc. in Commerce, about 10 miles southeast from downtown Los Angeles, and San Diego said Wednesday they filed to unionize. The workers are looking to join the Teamsters Local 848 serving the greater Los Angeles area and Teamsters Local 542 in San Diego.”
A spokesman for the workers said the action involves about 250 people. The group alleges their employment status is being misclassified as independent contractors by XPO and is also challenging those drivers’ classification.
Federal law does not allow independent contractors to form unions.
James P. Hoffa, general president of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, criticized XPO in a statement saying the company has “led the race to the bottom we’ve seen across the trucking industry, skirting or outright ignoring the law in the name of corporate profits and shareholder dividends.”
XPO said in a statement to Sourcing Journal that many of the independent contractors it works with prefer the scheduling flexibility that status allows.
“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. In addition, any independent contractor with a commercial driver’s license who wants to work for XPO as a full-time employee is welcome to apply for any number of truck driver openings offered by XPO,” the company said.
XPO said it currently has a full-time driver base of about 12,000. The company counts about 360 independent contractors in California.
XPO also said less than 1 percent of its U.S. employees had Teamsters representation as of November.
In October, XPO settled class-action lawsuits over wages that impacted some 784 drivers at XPO Port Service and XPO Logistics Cartage. The company agreed to pay $30 million to settle those two cases.
Reclassifying workers was not part of the agreement.
A bill signed into law by California Gov. Gavin Newsom in late September sought to add further oversight to the trucking industry. Senate Bill 338, which called the state’s port drayage drivers “the last American sharecroppers,” makes customers of trucking companies now share the liability in driver health and safety violations.
Workers across the supply chain have been stretched for some time now as additional pressures on everyone from ocean freight carriers to last-mile delivery drivers are expected to remain into this year due to the lingering impact of Covid-19 and its variants.
A report released this week from supply chain analytics firm Everstream Analytics identified the workforce as one of five risks to the supply chain to watch out for this year. The report suggested workers run the risk of being rundown amid a labor shortage, while employers face greater threats of strike actions.