American Logistics Archive

LA City Council Vetoes Preferential Operating Agreement

Justice for Port Drivers Press Release

May 8, 2017

Los Angeles City Council Unanimously Vetoes Preferential Operating Agreement Granted to Law-Breaking Trucking and Warehouse Company Approved by Port of LA Harbor Commission

Los Angeles, CA – Today, the Los Angeles City Council, which oversees the largest container port in North America, unanimously vetoed the Foreign Trade Zone Operating Agreement (FTZ) granted by the Port’s Harbor Commission to California Cartage’s warehousing and port trucking operations located on Port property in Wilmington, CA. The FTZ designation provides a clear competitive advantage to NFI/Cal Cartage, the largest trucking and warehousing operation at the port, by providing tax breaks to its retail clients. The Los Angeles Harbor Commission approved the FTZ for Cal Cartage, which was purchased by NFI Industries in October 2017, despite the ongoing pattern of violations of health and safety, employment, and labor laws at the company (see list of legal and regulatory action below).

For the past three years, NFI/Cal Cartage warehouse workers and port drivers have persistently demanded that the LA Harbor Commissioners address the enduring law-breaking at the company’s warehousing and trucking facilities, which are located at 2401 East Pacific Coast Highway, which is owned by the Port of Los Angeles. This site includes the NFI/Cal Cartage warehouse and two related trucking companies, K&R Transportation and California Cartage Express.

“We entrust our City authorities with ensuring compliance with all City contracts, especially when these agreements give corporations like NFI/Cal Cartage a competitive advantage,” said Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters Local 848, in a letter to Councilmembers in advance of the vote. “Given the sheer volume of government findings, ongoing investigations, and unmistakable evidence that Cal Cartage is a recidivist law breaker, it is overwhelmingly clear to us that the Harbor Commission failed to ensure that Cal Cartage meets the necessary requirements in the Operating Agreement.”

“Time and again I have told the LA Harbor Commission that NFI/Cal Cartage is breaking the law by misclassifying me as an independent contractor yet they continue to give sweetheart deals to the company,” said Gustavo Villa, a misclassified port truck driver employed by Cal Cartage Express. “I am so grateful that Councilmember Buscaino stepped in to block this sweetheart deal for a company that has shown no regard for the laws of the land.”

“For the past four years, I have worked at the Cal Cartage warehouse and have been outspoken about the unsafe conditions there. There are forklifts that don’t brake and the high heat is a problem. A co-worker got sick because of the over 100 degree heat inside the container and management said to just cover him with boxes,” said Bruce Jefferson, a Cal Cartage temp warehouse worker. “Every job at the ports should be a good and safe job, and I’m glad that the City Council agrees that no special tax breaks should be given to companies that are breaking the law.”

“We should never give incentives, like the Foreign Trade Zone Permit, to law-breaking companies where abuse and pressure to work quickly are common, where faulty brakes on forklifts are left unrepaired, and where truck drivers continue to drive for 18-20 hours per day for pennies,” said Alice Berliner, Southern California Coalition for Occupational Safety & Health (SoCalCOSH). “When the Harbor Commission renewed the NFI/Cal Cartage Foreign Trade Zone Permit, they sent the message that it’s okay to pay workers poverty wages, it’s okay to steal drivers’ wages, it’s okay to allow occupational injuries, and in some cases fatalities, on City property. And most importantly, when the Harbor Commission renewed NFI/Cal Cartage’s FTZ Agreement, it sent the message that the City of Los Angeles condones this abuse. Today’s Council veto of the Agreement reverses this unjust decision and sends a strong message that worker health and safety matters.”

On April 5, 2018, the LA Harbor Commission approved a one-year Foreign Trade Zone (FTZ) Operating Agreement with the company. On April 17, 2018, the LA City Council approved a motion filed by Los Angeles City Councilmember Joe Buscaino to assert jurisdiction over the matter, and on May 1, 2018, the Trade, Travel, and Tourism Committee recommended that Council veto the Harbor Commission’s approval of the FTZ agreement. Today, the full City Council voted to veto NFI/Cal Cartage’s FTZ Operating Agreement.

Background: Regulatory Action and Litigation at NFI/California Cartage

California Cartage, based in Wilmington, CA, is one of the largest goods movement companies in America, with warehouses and port trucking operations across the U.S. Referred to herein as “NFI/Cal Cartage,” this family of companies was recently acquired by the New Jersey-based National Freight Industries (NFI). Previous to this acquisition, Cal Cartage was owned and managed by Robert Curry, Sr. and his family. NFI/Cal Cartage represents the largest trucking operation at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach by a wide margin.

Port Trucking Operations

The NFI/Cal Cartage family of companies includes five major trucking operations at the Ports of LA and Long Beach. The four largest – K&R Transportation, California Cartage Express, ContainerFreight EIT and California Multimodal LLC (CMI) – have been facing multiple claims in the courts and government agencies for misclassifying their drivers. In several instances, agencies have already determined that drivers were, in fact, employees. K&R and California Cartage Express operate out of the same property as the Cal Cartage warehouse (described in the following section), CMI operates out of a nearby Wilmington yard, and ContainerFreight operates out of a yard in Long Beach. Combined, more than 600 alleged misclassified drivers work for these companies.

Agency Investigations and Determinations

California Labor Commissioner

Employee determinations:

  • Over the past two years, there have been at least 12 decisions issued by the California Labor Commissioner in individual claims filed by NFI/Cal Cartage drivers working for K&R Transportation, Cal Cartage Express, ContainerFreight, and CMI. All of these claims found that the drivers were, in fact, employees, and not independent contractors. Together, those decisions ordered NFI/Cal Cartage to pay those 12 drivers a total of $1,419,102.62 for Labor Code violations including unlawful deductions and unreimbursed expenses. NFI/Cal Cartage has appealed twelve of these cases, settling eight of them, while one remains pending in Superior Court.

Pending claims:

  • There have been an additional 28 Labor Commissioner claims that drivers have filed against NFI/Cal Cartage, all of which appear to be pending (of these, 15 were filed by K&R drivers and 12 by CMI drivers). 10 of the K&R drivers had their hearings in December 2017, and a decision is pending. There are hearings scheduled beginning May 7, 2018 in the claims of 10 CMI drivers. The total liability for those 28 claims is over $5 million.

California Employment Development Department (EDD)

  • At least four K&R drivers have been determined to have been employees – not independent contractors – by the California EDD in individual benefits determinations.
  • In June and September of 2017, the California EDD filed at least two tax liens against K&R Transportation.

Los Angeles City Attorney

  • On January 8, 2018, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that his office had filed lawsuits against Cal Cartage Express, CMI, and K&R Transportation for violation of Unfair Competition Law by misclassifying port truck drivers as independent contractors and evade paying taxes and providing benefits to drivers.

Private Litigation

  • In recent years, NFI/Cal Cartage has faced four class action lawsuits in California Superior Court for multiple Labor Code violations, including willful misclassification, unlawful deductions, unreimbursed expenses, unpaid minimum wages, and failure to provide meal and rest breaks, along with violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law. In December 2017, the last pending case settled for $3.5 million and a motion for final approval is scheduled for May 2018. The company recently settled three similar suits.
  • NFI/Cal Cartage also recently settled two “mass action” lawsuits for misclassification and wage theft in CA Superior Court involving 55 drivers.

Warehouse Operations

Cal Cartage Container Freight Station in Wilmington, CA, is a warehouse and freight center on Port of LA property and employs approximately 500 workers, with 80 percent of the workforce being employed through a temp agency. While Cal Cartage warehouse workers once had good paying jobs that provided benefits, they have not had representation from a union in over 30 years and conditions have suffered. Workers are now paid the state minimum wage with little or no benefits (even though they are entitled to a higher wage under the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance), and work in health and safety conditions that are deplorable. The company has been cited for serious health and safety violations twice in the past three years, and workers face serious retaliation resulting in unfair labor practices charges and five strikes.

Health & Safety

The warehouse facility has health and safety issues. The building was built in the 1940s and is poorly maintained. Several workers have been hurt just trying to walk around the facility due to potholes and poor infrastructure. The machines, including forklifts, are not maintained and often have faulty brakes and horns—leading to accidents. Workers filed a formal complaint with Cal/OSHA in June 2015, triggering an investigation at the facility. In November 2015, over $21,000 in citations were issued—4 serious and 6 general penalties. It was noted in these citations that the chipped paint at this facility contains lead.

Cal/OSHA reinvestigated the facility a year later, resulting in additional serious citations in November 2016 amounting $67,150 for the warehouse and $51,275 for the staffing agency. Citations included not providing workers with steel-toed boots, not properly attaching shipping containers to the dock, and repeat violations for unsafe brakes on forklifts. The investigation regarding the company’s abatement of these citations is still active. Workers filed a third Cal/OSHA complaint in November 2017, and the investigation is still pending.

National Labor Relations Board

  • On February 28, 2018, Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) Ariel Sotolongo issued a decision finding that California Cartage and its subsidiary Orient Tally violated workers’ rights at the 2401 E. Pacific Coast Highway, warehouse, including by engaging in unlawful interrogation, implied threats of termination, and confronting workers in a physically aggressive fashion. This decision ordered the company to cease and desist the unlawful behavior, and was issued following a hearing held in June 2017. The case arose after Region 21 of the National Labor Relations Board issued a March 2016 Consolidated Complaint (Cases: 21-CA-160242 and 21-CA-162991) against California Cartage for unfair labor practice (ULP) charges.
  • In 2016, workers at the same warehouse filed additional ULP charges with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters against California Cartage for several unfair labor practices including then company owner Bob Curry threatening to close the warehouse if workers unionized. These charges are pending.

Private Litigation

On December 17, 2014, workers from the California Cartage warehouse on Pacific Coast Highway at the Port of Los Angeles filed a class action lawsuit alleging millions of dollars in wage theft. The workers, many of whom are paid the state minimum wage and have worked through a staffing agency for years, are entitled to the benefits of the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance because the warehouse where they work is operated on City of Los Angeles property. Despite this, the workers at the warehouse have not been paid the applicable living wage rate in the 18 years since the ordinance passed.

Under the City of Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance, Cal Cartage is currently required to provide each worker with either $12.52 per hour for an all-cash wage or $11.27 per hour plus $1.25 per hour in health benefits and as of July 1, 2017, it will go up to be $12.73 all-cash wage or $11.48 plus $1.25 in health benefits. Further, each worker is entitled to 12 paid days off per year. The law extends the obligation to any staffing agencies that are contracted by Cal Cartage and that directly employ more than 50 percent of the workers in the warehouse facility.

The case is currently in mediation proceedings.

NFI/Cal Cartage’s key customers include: Lowe’s, Amazon, TJ Maxx, Home Depot, Kmart, and Sears, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense.

 

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Lara Introduces Legislation to Hold Retailers Accountable for Contracting with Companies that Violate Laws

April 11, 2018

Press Release

Media Contact: here

CA Senator Ricardo Lara Introduces ‘Dignity for Port Drivers’ Legislation to Hold Retailers Accountable for Contracting with Port Trucking  Companies that Violate Labor Laws

Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, CA –California State Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens) has amended SB 1402 to eradicate systemic wage theft and labor law violations in California’s port trucking industry that has led to 15 disruptive strikes at America’s largest port complex. The legislation is co-authored by Senator Steven Bradford (D-Gardena) and Assembly Member Lorena Gonzalez-Fletcher (D-San Diego).

SB 1402 will order the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE) to create a list of port trucking companies that have an unsatisfied final court judgment, an assessment from the EDD or any Order, Decision or Award (ODA) from the DLSE for failure to pay wages, imposing unlawful business expenses on employees, failure to remit payroll taxes, failure to provide workers compensation on employees, or misclassification of port drayage driver employees as independent contractors. This list will be available to every shipper who imports and exports goods through California’s seaports – including retailers like Amazon, WalMart, and Home Depot – so that they are unequivocally aware of which companies are violating the law. If in turn the shipper hires a lawbreaking company, then that entity will be held liable for subsequent wage and hour violations for drivers who haul freight for them.

“Until the major retailers like Amazon, Sony, and Home Depot are held jointly liable for the unconscionable and systemic lawbreaking by their harbor trucking contractors, we will not be able to solve the problem of having thousands of immigrant drivers being treated as ‘indentured servants’ by their employers here at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. With the bold leadership of Senator Ricardo Lara, this will change, paving the way for port trucker jobs to become good jobs,” said Randy Cammack, President, Teamsters Joint Council 42.

“With the introduction of this bill, port drivers like me feel hope that the trucking companies will finally stop cheating us and breaking the law to cut costs. I have gone on strike many times with my fellow drivers to protest our abusive treatment. I have walked picket lines at the entrance of port terminals all day and all night because we no other way to get the rich and powerful corporations like Amazon, Lowes, and Wal Mart to take responsibility for fixing their trucking companies’ exploitative treatment of us. Thank you, Senator Lara, for introducing these important bills that will improve the lives of thousands of port drivers like me.” said Gustavo Villa, a misclassified driver from NFI/California Cartage Express who met personally with Senator Lara in late 2016 to detail the exploitation and abuse drivers suffer at America’s largest port complex. “I am hopeful that Senator Lara’s legislation will help me and my coworkers re-claim our employee rights so that we can stop striking and get back to the business of hauling America’s cargo.”

Overview of Misclassification and Wage Theft Claims (updated 2/15/18)

Labor Commissioner claims

Since 2011, port truck drivers have filed at least 890 claims with the CA Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Of those, the Labor Commissioner’s office has issued determinations in at least 376 cases, finding that drivers were, in fact, employees and therefore owed over $40 million in stolen wages and penalties. There are approximately 150 pending claims awaiting hearings. The remaining approximately 350 cases filed appear to have been settled prior to hearing or were transferred to court or private arbitration.

Private litigation

Drivers have also been exercising their rights as employees through the court system. Drivers at virtually every market-leading company at the ports have joined class-action suits for misclassification and wage theft, with more than 30 such suits filed. Several of these cases have recently settled, although the persistent misclassification leaves these companies vulnerable to new claims. In addition to the class action suits, drivers have also filed dozens of individual or “mass-action” suits involving multiple plaintiffs.

Labor Code violations

All of the above cases – DLSE claims, along with class action, “mass-action,” and individual lawsuits – are seeking to address violations of the California Labor Code, including unlawful deductions and unreimbursed expenses, and failure to provide meal and rest breaks. Recent cases also include damages for unpaid “nonproductive” hours worked, such as time spent inspecting trucks, under a new CA piece rate law (AB 1513). Most of the private suits include other causes of action, including willful misclassification and violations of the CA Unfair Competition Law.

Agency Enforcement and Employee Determinations

In addition to the courts and the DLSE, other state and federal agencies have found port drivers to be employees upon conducting investigations into labor, employment, and tax laws. These decisions include the following:

Federal government action

  • National Labor Relations Board (NLRB): In 2017, an Administrative Law Judge for Region 21 of the NLRB found Intermodal Bridge Transport (IBT) drivers to be misclassified and that this misclassification is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Additionally, Region 21 of the NLRB has made merit determinations that drivers from at least five other major port trucking companies were employees – not independent contractors.
  • US Department of Labor (DOL): The DOL conducted an investigation of a market-leading port trucking company for misclassification, which resulted in a 2014 consent judgment and order in which the presiding federal judge found the company’s California drivers to be employees and ordered it to reclassify them (Thomas E. Perez, v. Shippers Transport Express, Inc., Case No. 2:13-cv-04255-BRO-PLA).

California state government action

  • CA Employment Development Department: The California Employment Development Department has issued individual employee determinations in the cases of at least 45 port drivers.
  • CA Attorney General: Between 2008 and 2009, the CA Attorney General filed lawsuits against six area port trucking companies, five of which were settled. The sixth suit, against Pac Anchor, is moving forward following a unanimous 2014 ruling by the California Supreme Court that found that that the case was not preempted by federal law. The US Supreme Court declined to review that decision in 2015, clearing the way for the original case to proceed. A trial is scheduled for April 2018 (The People of the State of California v. Pac Anchor, Case No. BC397600).

City government action

  • Los Angeles City Attorney: On January 8, 2018, the Los Angeles City Attorney filed lawsuits against three port trucking companies owned by NFI/Cal Cartage, whose trucking enterprise is the largest at the Ports of LA and Long Beach, for violating the Unfair Competition Law (UCL) by misclassifying port truck drivers as independent contractors, evading their obligation to provide benefits to drivers and pay relevant taxes (The People of the State of California v. CMI Transportation, Case No. BC689321; The People of the State of California v. K&R Transportation, Case No. BC689322; The People of the State of California v. California Cartage Express, Case No. BC689320)

Port truck drivers march in protest of working conditions

Landline Magazine

March 9, 2018

“Fifty-three years ago, peaceful protesters in Selma began a march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge in a demonstration to end racial discrimination and secure justice for Americans of color,” Eric Tate, secretary treasurer of Teamsters Local 848, said in a news release. “They were met by a line of officers with clubs and tear gas. The violence that unfolded became known as Bloody Sunday. Here at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, Jim Crow racism continues. Economic injustice is rampant. Worker exploitation is a business model.”

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Misclassified port truck drivers declare the time for change is now; Long Beach City Council unanimously adopts Mayor Garcia’s recommendations to end lawbreaking at America’s largest port complex 

PRESS RELEASE: Tuesday, February 21, 2018

Misclassified port truck drivers declare the time for change is now; Long Beach City Council unanimously adopts Mayor Garcia’s recommendations to end lawbreaking at America’s largest port complex 

Long Beach, CA – On Tuesday, the Long Beach City Council unanimously approved a bold set of recommendations from Mayor Robert Garcia to protect the proprietary interest of the city’s port by cracking down on trucking companies that are breaking labor laws. The recommendations included:

  • Add language to our State and Federal Legislative Agendas to support legislation that improves working conditions for port truck drivers and addresses related issues;
  • Request City Attorney to work with the California Labor Commissioner’s and Attorney General’s Offices to explore options to support regulatory enforcement efforts; and
  • Request the Harbor and Tidelands Committee and the Long Beach Harbor Commission to hold hearings on the trucking crisis and misclassification of employees at the ports with the goal of finding solutions that protect the Port of Long Beach’s proprietary interests.

“We need you to use your authority to help us fix this broken system by banning companies that are breaking the law. It’s the only way to hold the retailers who are exploiting this broken system accountable,” Gustavo Villa, a misclassified driver for NFI/California Cartage Express, told the Long Beach City Council. “Thank you, Mayor Garcia and council members for hearing us and for stepping forward to demand change. On behalf of my co-workers and my family, the time for change is now.”

“Teamsters Local 848 now proudly represents more than 500 truck drivers who haul cargo on and off the docks of the Port of Long Beach, nearly all of whom work for companies that have determined that it’s in their best business interest to follow U.S. labor laws. These companies are being under-cut day in and day out by companies like NFI/Cal Cartage, XPO Logistics, and Intermodal Bridge Transport – and hundreds of others – that are profiting off of our ports, the people’s ports, by exploiting mostly immigrant drivers,” said Louie Diaz, Vice President, Teamsters Local 848.  “These companies’ customers – giant retailers like Target, Home Depot, and Amazon – are aiding and abetting these lawbreakers by continuing to contract with them for drayage when they know, without a question, that they are illegally exploiting these drivers…often in violation of their own Code of Conduct. The gig is up. The time for action is now. Change is past due!”

“The painful stories of exploited workers expose the greed and devaluation of life at the port, all in the name of profits. Their inhumane business practices show the ugly side of human nature, and faith leaders will forever worry about the fate of these workers, the plight of them, the working poor, just as the prophets did,” testified Rabbi Jonathan Klein, Executive Director, Clergy and Laity United for Economic Justice (CLUE). “Mayor Garcia and esteemed council members, I’m hoping for a unanimous vote. Please take the concrete actions and steps to hold trucking companies accountable for violating the most basic of labor laws; the laws that create the structure for our society that allows us to have a functional society. These laws must be observed, otherwise we just end up with lawlessness.”

Overview of Misclassification and Wage Theft Claims (updated 2/15/18)

Labor Commissioner claims

Since 2011, port truck drivers have filed at least 890 claims with the CA Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE). Of those, the Labor Commissioner’s office has issued determinations in at least 376 cases, finding that drivers were, in fact, employees and therefore owed over $40 million in stolen wages and penalties. There are approximately 150 pending claims awaiting hearings. The remaining approximately 350 cases filed appear to have been settled prior to hearing or were transferred to court or private arbitration

Private litigation

Drivers have also been exercising their rights as employees through the court system. Drivers at virtually every market-leading company at the ports have joined class-action suits for misclassification and wage theft, with more than 30 such suits filed. Several of these cases have recently settled, although the persistent misclassification leaves these companies vulnerable to new claims. In addition to the class action suits, drivers have also filed dozens of individual or “mass-action” suits involving multiple plaintiffs.

Labor Code violations

All of the above cases – DLSE claims, along with class action, “mass-action,” and individual lawsuits – are seeking to address violations of the California Labor Code, including unlawful deductions and unreimbursed expenses, and failure to provide meal and rest breaks. Recent cases also include damages for unpaid “nonproductive” hours worked, such as time spent inspecting trucks, under a new CA piece rate law (AB 1513). Most of the private suits include other causes of action, including willful misclassification and violations of the CA Unfair Competition Law.

Agency Enforcement and Employee Determinations

In addition to the courts and the DLSE, other state and federal agencies have found port drivers to be employees upon conducting investigations into labor, employment, and tax laws. These decisions include the following:

Federal government action

National Labor Relations Board (NLRB): In 2017, an Administrative Law Judge for Region 21 of the NLRB found Intermodal Bridge Transport (IBT) drivers to be misclassified and that this misclassification is a violation of the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA). Additionally, Region 21 of the NLRB has made merit determinations that drivers from at least five other major port trucking companies were employees – not independent contractors.

US Department of Labor (DOL):The DOL conducted an investigation of a market-leading port trucking company for misclassification, which resulted in a 2014 consent judgment and order in which the presiding federal judge found the company’s California drivers to be employees and ordered it to reclassify them (Thomas E. Perez, v. Shippers Transport Express, Inc., Case No. 2:13-cv-04255-BRO-PLA).

California state government action

CA Employment Development Department: The California Employment Development Department has issued individual employee determinations in the cases of at least 45 port drivers.

CA Attorney General: Between 2008 and 2009, the CA Attorney General filed lawsuits against six area port trucking companies, five of which were settled. The sixth suit, against Pac Anchor, is moving forward following a unanimous 2014 ruling by the California Supreme Court that found that that the case was not preempted by federal law. The US Supreme Court declined to review that decision in 2015, clearing the way for the original case to proceed. A trial is scheduled for April 2018 (The People of the State of California v. Pac Anchor, Case No. BC397600).

City government action

Los Angeles City Attorney: On January 8, 2018, the Los Angeles City Attorney filed lawsuits against three port trucking companies owned by NFI/Cal Cartage, whose trucking enterprise is the largest at the Ports of LA and Long Beach, for violating the Unfair Competition Law (UCL) by misclassifying port truck drivers as independent contractors, evading their obligation to provide benefits to drivers and pay relevant taxes (The People of the State of California v. CMI Transportation, Case No. BC689321; The People of the State of California v. K&R Transportation, Case No. BC689322; The People of the State of California v. California Cartage Express, Case No. BC689320)

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Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia to take bold action to end lawbreaking at America’s largest port complex

Tonight: 5:30 PM PST in Long Beach, CA

Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia to take bold action to end lawbreaking at America’s largest port complex

Long Beach, CA – On Tuesday, Feb. 20, at 5:30 PM, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, with the support of Long Beach Councilmembers Al Austin, Lena Gonzalez, Jeannine Pearce, and Rex Richardson, will make the following recommendations:

  1. Add language to our State and Federal Legislative Agendas to support legislation that improves working conditions for port truck drivers and addresses related issues;
  2. Request City Attorney to work with the California Labor Commissioner’s and Attorney General’s Offices to explore options to support regulatory enforcement efforts; and
  3. Request the Harbor and Tidelands Committee and the Long Beach Harbor Commission to hold hearings on the trucking crisis and misclassification of employees at the ports with the goal of finding solutions that protect the Port of Long Beach’s proprietary interests.

WHO: Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia, Long Beach City Council, misclassified truck drivers, and community allies

WHAT: Long Beach City Council meeting to consider assertive action to protect proprietary interest of the city’s port by cracking down on trucking companies that are breaking labor laws

WHEN: Tuesday, February 20, 2018; 5:30 PM

WHERE: Long Beach City Hall, 333 W Ocean Blvd, Long Beach, CA 90802

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Port Drivers: Unite &Take Action!

2017 was an epic year in our fight for justice. Click here for a roundup. LA & Long Beach are pushing for big changes in port trucking in 2018. Unite and Take Action to make the ports work for you!

PORT WIDE MEETING

WHEN: Saturday, January 27 at 2:00 PM

WHERE: Teamsters Local 848, 3888 Cherry Ave., Long Beach

QUESTIONS: Call Ricardo Hidalgo at (310) 251-6876.

  • The Trump administration’s unjust terminations of TPS is an attack on our communities. The Teamsters stand with TPS holders and your families. We cannot let this injustice go unchallenged.
  • How will terminating TPS hurt you, your family, friends, and fellow drivers? Get informed so we can take action. Leading immigrant rights groups will be guest speakers at our meeting.
  • In another blow to driver wage theft and misclassification, the L.A. City Attorney has filed lawsuits against CMI, K&R, and Cal Cartage Express.
  • Unite with other drivers to make the future of harbor trucking works for you!
  • The Ports have adopted a new Clean Air Action Plan that includes a new truck ban.
  • Join other port drivers to demand that industry – not us drivers! – pay for the new trucks!

Sponsored by Justice for Port Drivers, in partnership with the CARECEN (the Central American Resource Center) and the National TPS Alliance-LA.

LA Port Executives and Trucking Industry CEOs celebrate the port’s busiest year in 2017, but Truck Drivers are still fighting for a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work!

According to the ports, 2017 was the busiest year in history, with record cargo moved on and off the docks. They say we as truck drivers “move the world,” yet with billions of dollars worth of cargo moving through the ports everyone seems to be profiting but us drivers…

In 2017, we made notable progress in our fight for dignity, respect as professional truck drivers, and a fair day’s pay for a hard day’s work. When we unite, our voices are strong. When we unite, the world listens. When we unite, we win.

  • In 2017, the community listened –
    • Community allies, including faith leaders and labor activists, launched a “Truth Commission” to review drivers’ working conditions and declared alongside us: ‘Our People, Our Port!’
  • In 2017, the news media listened –
    • Hundreds of stories appeared in print, on TV, and on the radio – in both English and Spanish languages. Click here.
    • After a year-long investigation into truck leases and safety data, the USA Today Network published an explosive series of stories that catapulted our fight into the national spotlight. Click here.
  • In 2017, federal government officials listened:
  • In 2017, local government officials listened:
    • In December, the Los Angeles City Council unanimously passed a motion calling for an investigation into misclassification, wage theft, and other illegal activities we have experienced under the trucking companies.
    • In reaction to a USA Today story exposing that “companies risk lives by putting sleep-deprived port truckers on the road,” Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti said, “Federal hours of service laws exist for the safety of drivers and all of us. Violations are unacceptable and where they may have occurred they need to be promptly investigated.”

On January 8, 2018, L.A. City Attorney Mike Feuer shocked the industry by filing lawsuits for illegally classifying drivers as “independent contractors” against NFI-owned CMI Transportation, K & R Transportation, and Cal Cartage Express. Just 24 hours later, Long Beach Mayor Robert Garcia publicly announced that getting justice for port drivers is one of his top priorities for 2018!

Click here to see drivers’ reaction to the LA City Attorney’s lawsuits.

We won many battles in 2017 and the world is watching. Change is on the horizon, so if you’re not currently one of the thousands of drivers whose voices are united in demanding changes that will work for all drivers, join us!

Call the Justice for Port Drivers hotline today at (562) 888-1011.

 

LA’s City Attorney Sues 3 Port Trucking Companies

NEWS ROUND UP

On January 8th, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer filed lawsuits against three leading port trucking companies, all owned by NFI Industries. In the suits, City Attorney Feuer alleges that the companies intentionally misclassified hundreds of truckers as independent contractors, rather than employees, to avoid providing benefits and paying applicable taxes.

January 8th

January 9th

January 10th

January 11th

LA City Attorney Files Lawsuits Against Three Port Trucking Companies for Misclassification of Truck Drivers

Justice for Port Drivers Press Release

PRESS RELEASE FOR: Monday, January 8, 2018

PRESS CONTACT: Barb Maynard

Los Angeles, CA – Today, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer filed lawsuits against three leading port trucking companies, all owned by NFI Industries, which purchased the conglomerate from the Bob Curry family (California Cartage) in 2017. In the suits, City Attorney Feuer alleges that the companies intentionally misclassified hundreds of truckers as independent contractors, rather than employees, to avoid providing benefits and paying applicable taxes.

Click here to download the complaints (scroll to bottom of press release).

“The Teamsters applaud Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer for taking aggressive action against these market leading companies – K&R Transportation, CMI, and California Cartage Express – which continue to violate the law even after determinations by the California Labor Commissioner that they are openly violating the law. We hope this will send a strong message that not only these companies, but the entire port trucking industry must stop breaking labor laws. Thousands of drivers at many of LA’s port trucking companies have filed private lawsuits and wage and hour claims alleging illegal misclassification; and drivers have gone on strike 15 times to demand change. And every government agency that has conducted an investigation has determined that port trucking companies are violating the law. Yet, despite the legal evidence, LA Port officials have effectively sanctioned their behavior by allowing them to continue to conduct business on public property. This must end,” said Fred Potter, Vice President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Director of the Teamsters’ Port Division.

“With these lawsuits, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer has made it clear that if you break the law by misclassifying drivers as “independent contractors” at LA’s port then there will be consequences. Unfettered lawbreaking unfairly undercuts the companies that are following the law,” said Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer, Teamsters local 848, which represents more than 500 port truck drivers at America’s largest port complex.

“After years of telling the leaders of Los Angeles’ Port that these companies are blatantly breaking the law on public property – with no action – we are pleased to see LA’s City Attorney file lawsuits against these companies to demand an end to misclassification and wage theft that hurts our families,” Gustavo Villa, misclassified driver, California Cartage Express.

BACKGROUND

NFI/California Cartage, based in Wilmington, CA, is one of the largest goods movement companies in America, with warehouses and port trucking operations across the U.S.  Referred to herein as “NFI/Cal Cartage,” this family of companies was recently acquired by the New Jersey-based National Freight Industries (NFI).[1] Previous to this acquisition, Cal Cartage was owned and managed by Robert Curry, Sr. and his family. NFI/Cal Cartage represents the largest trucking operation at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach by a wide margin.

Cal Cartage Port Trucking Operations

The NFI/Cal Cartage family of companies includes five major trucking operations at the Ports of LA and Long Beach. The four largest – K&R Transportation, California Cartage Express, ContainerFreight EIT and California Multimodal LLC (CMI) – have been facing multiple claims in the courts and government agencies for misclassifying their drivers. In several instances, agencies have already determined that drivers were, in fact, employees. K&R and California Cartage Express operate out of the same property as the Cal Cartage warehouse (described in the following section), CMI operates out of a nearby Wilmington yard, and ContainerFreight operates out of a yard in Long Beach. Combined, more than 600 alleged misclassified drivers work for these companies.

Agency Investigations and Determinations:

California Labor Commissioner:

Employee determinations:

  • Over the past two years, there have been at least 12 decisions issued by the California Labor Commissioner in individual claims filed by NFI/Cal Cartage drivers working for K&R Transportation, Cal Cartage Express, ContainerFreight, and CMI. All of these claims found that the drivers were, in fact, employees, and not independent contractors. Together, those decisions ordered NFI/Cal Cartage to pay those 12 drivers a total of $1,419,102.62 for Labor Code violations including unlawful deductions and unreimbursed expenses. NFI/Cal Cartage has appealed nine of these cases, settling eight of them, while one remains pending in Superior Court. For the other three cases, it is as yet unknown if NFI/Cal Cartage will appeal the decisions as it is within the appeal time frame.

Pending claims:

  • here have been an additional 30 Labor Commissioner claims that drivers have filed against NFI/Cal Cartage, all of which appear to be pending (of these, 15 were filed by K&R drivers and 15 by CMI drivers). 10 of the K&R drivers had their hearings in December 2017. The total liability for those 30 claims is $5,620,338.16.

California Employment Development Department (EDD)

  • At least four K&R drivers have been determined to have been employees – not independent contractors – by the California EDD in individual benefits determinations.
  • In June and September of 2017, the California EDD filed at least two tax liens against K&R Transportation.

Los Angeles City Attorney

  • On January 8, 2018, Los Angeles City Attorney Mike Feuer announced that his office had filed lawsuits against Cal Cartage Express, CMI, and K&R Transportation for violation of Unfair Competition Law by misclassifying port truck drivers as independent contractors and evade paying taxes and providing benefits to drivers.

Private Litigation:

  • In recent years, NFI/Cal Cartage has faced four class action lawsuits in California Superior Court for multiple Labor Code violations, including willful misclassification, unlawful deductions, unreimbursed expenses, unpaid minimum wages, and failure to provide meal and rest breaks, along with violation of California’s Unfair Competition Law. In December 2017, the last pending case settled for $3.5 million and a motion for final approval is scheduled for April 2018.[2] The company recently settled three similar suits.[3]
  • NFI/Cal Cartage also recently settled two “mass action” lawsuits for misclassification and wage theft in CA Superior Court involving 55 drivers.[4]

Cal Cartage Warehouse

Cal Cartage Container Freight Station in Wilmington is a warehouse and freight center on Port of LA property and employs approximately 500 workers, with 80 percent of the workforce being employed through a temp agency. While Cal Cartage warehouse workers used to have good paying jobs that provided benefits, they have not had representation from a union in over 30 years and conditions have suffered. Workers are now paid the state minimum wage with little or no benefits (even though they are entitled to a higher wage under the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance), and work in health and safety conditions that are deplorable. The company has been cited for serious health and safety violations twice in the past three years, and workers face serious retaliation resulting in unfair labor practices charges and five strikes.

Health & Safety:

The warehouse facility has health and safety issues. The building was built in the 1940s and is poorly maintained. Several workers have been hurt just trying to walk around the facility due to potholes and poor infrastructure. The machines, including forklifts, are not maintained and often have faulty brakes and horns—leading to accidents. Workers filed a formal complaint with Cal/OSHA in June 2015, triggering an investigation at the facility. In November 2015, over $21,000 in citations were issued—4 serious and 6 general penalties. It was noted in these citations that the chipped paint at this facility contains lead.

Cal/OSHA reinvestigated the facility a year later, resulting in additional serious citations in November 2016 amounting $67,150 for the warehouse and $51,275 for the staffing agency. Citations included not providing workers with steel toed boots, not properly attaching shipping containers to the dock, and repeat violations for unsafe brakes on forklifts. The investigation regarding the company’s abatement of these citations is still active.

National Labor Relations Board:

On June 12, 2017, a trial began at the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB)’s Region 21 on several Unfair Labor Practice Charges (ULPs), summarized below:

  • Region 21 found merit to Unfair Labor Practice charges filed in September and October 2015 and issued a complaint and notice of hearing on March 21, 2016.
  • The NLRB began its investigation in September 2015, when the Warehouse Worker Resource Center (WWRC) filed an unfair labor practice (ULP) charge with the NLRB, alleging that California Cartage had interfered with workers’ concerted and protected activities by threatening supporters with discharge and attempting to initiate a physical altercation with a worker due to a worker delegation.
  • The NLRB continued their investigation in October 2015 when new ULPs were filed alleging that California Cartage had interfered with workers’ concerted and protected activities. The company instituted unlawful workplace rules to limit workers’ ability to petition and delegate management.
  • In April 2016, WWRC filed charges alleging that California Cartage and Associated Management Resources, Inc. (AMR staff agency) interfered with workers’ protected activities by threatening and interrogating supporters with termination. Additionally, the charges alleged that Cal Cartage violated federal labor laws by retaliating against a supporter by discharging Manuel Reyes for his protected concerted activities.

Additionally, in 2016, the Teamsters filed ULP charges against California Cartage for several unfair labor practices including the Company Owner Bob Curry threatening to close the warehouse if workers unionized. These charges are pending.

Private Litigation:

On December 17, 2014, workers from the California Cartage warehouse on Pacific Coast Highway at the Port of Los Angeles filed a class action lawsuit alleging millions of dollars in wage theft.[5] The workers, many of whom are paid the state minimum wage and have worked through a staffing agency for years, are entitled to the benefits of the Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance because the warehouse where they work is operated on City of Los Angeles property. Despite this, the workers at the warehouse have not been paid the applicable living wage rate in the 18 years since the ordinance passed.

Under the City of Los Angeles Living Wage Ordinance, Cal Cartage is currently required to provide each worker with either $12.52 per hour for an all-cash wage or $11.27 per hour plus $1.25 per hour in health benefits and as of July 1, 2017, it will go up to be $12.73 all-cash wage or $11.48 plus $1.25 in health benefits. Further, each worker is entitled to 12 paid days off per year. The law extends the obligation to any staffing agencies that are contracted by Cal Cartage and that directly employ more than 50 percent of the workers in the warehouse facility.

The case is currently in mediation proceedings.

NFI/Cal Cartage’s key customers include: Lowe’s, Amazon, TJ Maxx, Home Depot, Kmart, and Sears, as well as the U.S. Department of Defense.

[1] California Cartage Co. Acquired by NFI Industries. (2017, October 3). Retrieved from http://labusinessjournal.com/news/2017/oct/03/california-cartage-co-acquired-nfi-industries/

[2] Campos v. California Cartage Company LLC et al, Case No. BC570310

[3] Constanza v. K&R Transportation, ContainerFreight, et al, Case No. CIVDS1615424; Martinez v. California Multimodal LLC, Case No. BC583858; Varela et al v. K&R Transportation LLC, Case No. BC643325

[4] Alonso Jimenez Torres et al v. K & R Transportation LLC, Case No. BC660910; Jose Luis Aguilar Et Al v. California Cartage Company LLC, Case No. BC577440

[5] Ayala, et al. v. California Cartage Company, Inc., et al, Case No. BC566992

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