New Jersey-based XPO drivers file for Teamster representation

The 33 XPO drivers filing for representation were formerly part of Con-way Freight, the less-than-truckload unit of Con-way, whom XPO acquired in late 2015.

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The International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) said this week that Trenton, N.J.-based drivers at freight transportation and logistics service provider XPO Logistics have filed for Teamster representation.

According to the IBT, the 33 XPO drivers filing for representation were formerly part of Con-way Freight, the less-than-truckload unit of Con-way, whom XPO acquired in late 2015. And they want to join North Brunswick, N.J.-based Teamsters Local 701 along with other XPO employees that have formed their union with the Teamsters in Miami, Fla.; Laredo, Texas; Vernon, Calif.; Aurora, Ill.; North Haven, Conn.; and King of Prussia, Pa.

“The freight workers in Trenton are united, strong and focused on forming their union with the Teamsters so that they can address the issues that are important to them -- better and affordable health insurance, retirement security and a voice on the job,” said Ernie Soehl, Director of the Teamsters National Freight Division and President of Teamsters Local 701.

Two other petitions were filed recently by XPO workers, with the Teamsters withdrawing in Birmingham, AL and in West Chester, PA in which the Teamsters lost the election.

The Teamsters won elections at three locations, Miami, Philadelphia, and North Haven, and the company has recognized the union as representing the employees. There are no contracts in place at these locations. And the Teamsters won elections at the following facilities, however, objections have been filed and the results are either not certified or the challenges completed:  Laredo, TX; downtown Los Angeles; Aurora, IL.  

XPO and the Teamsters have been at odds for several months now, with Connecticut-based XPO warehouse workers voting for Teamster representation by a 72-49 margin in October, with this vote coming after an announcement in mid-September that indicated it was heading in that direction and intending to become the first XPO Teamster-represented warehouse workers at XPO, joining employees that were formerly part of Con-way Freight in Miami, Laredo, Texas; and Vernon, California who had formed their union with the Teamsters.

As previously reported, the Teamsters added that the North Haven workers are seeking fair wages, affordable and better health care, retirement security, improved working conditions and respect and dignity on the job.

The XPO drivers in Aurora, Illinois filed for their election on September 14.

“The workers at XPO in Aurora and in North Haven, Conn. sent the company a message that ‘enough is enough,’” said Tyson Johnson, Director of the Teamsters Freight Division, in a statement last September. “The workers are tired of being mistreated and not having a say in their work lives.”

XPO was blunt in assessing these Teamster-related developments in a statement the company provided to LM in October.

“We’re investigating the process leading to the elections in both facilities to determine if they were lawful,” the company said. “If the elections stand, it will impact 200 employees. The vast majority of our 44,000 employees in the U.S. value a direct relationship with management, without the interference of a third party.”

In mid-September, XPO said that it did not come as a surprise that the Teamsters want to organize XPO employees to gain more dues-paying members, given the union's significant declines in membership and credibility.

The company explained it has strong relationships with its employees and the independent contractors who serve its customers, adding it was confident that the best way forward is to continue the direct and open dialogue it have now, without interference from a third party.”

An industry stakeholder added that the Teamsters previously were defeated or withdrew election petitions 9 times, with the defeats coming in Santa Fe Springs, San Fernando Valley and Bakersfield, CA, Manchester, NH, Harlingen, TX, and Portland, OR, with the Teamster petition withdrawals prior to vote coming in Irvine, CA and Orlando, FL, and Buffalo, NY.

Prior to XPO announcing it planned to acquire Con-way a little more than a year ago, there had been various attempts to get Con-way Freight to unionize, which were unsuccessful.

And in an October 2015 interview with LM, XPO Chairman and CEO Brad Jacobs said that he has dealt with unionization efforts throughout his entire career, including at United Waste and United Rentals, which have never succeeded.

“The reason…is we respect our employees and pay our employees fairly and communicate with them regularly,” he said. “They are part and parcel of the whole culture. When I was doing town halls in Joplin, Missouri (Con-way Truckload headquarters) meeting with drivers, I asked what they thought about unions, and they winced. They don’t like unions, because why do they need a third party to get between them and the company? What value does that add?”

About the Author

Jeff Berman, Group News Editor
Jeff Berman is Group News Editor for Logistics Management, Modern Materials Handling, and Supply Chain Management Review. Jeff works and lives in Cape Elizabeth, Maine, where he covers all aspects of the supply chain, logistics, freight transportation, and materials handling sectors on a daily basis. Contact Jeff Berman

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