Port of Los Angeles Archive

Regulatory Action and Litigation at NFI

National Freight Industries/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.

View NFI/Cal Cartage litigation and enforcement summary as of Nov 26, 2018

Two CA Port Truck Drivers Unlawfully Fired – One Savagely Beaten!

PRESS ADVISORY FOR: Monday, Sept. 10, 2018

PRESS CONTACT: Barb Maynard

Two CA Port Truck Drivers Unlawfully Fired – One Savagely Beaten! – by Company That Hauls Imports for Herbalife Nutrition and Kimberly-Clark After Independently Demanding To Be Paid for Every Hour Worked

Ports of Los Angeles/Long Beach, CA – At a leading drayage companies serving America’s largest port complex, two immigrant drivers employed by Pacific Green Trucking were retaliated against and fired after they independently dared to stand up to the boss for wage theft, including being forced to work off the clock. (Note: Pacific Green employs company drivers; these are not misclassified independent contractors.)

  • On August 2, driver Joel Mejia was summarily terminated, brutally beaten, threatened with death, and physically dragged out of the office, in retaliation for complaining that his employer Pacific Green Trucking (PGT) was stealing from him in violation of state labor laws by, for example, illegally deducting five hours of pay every five-day workweek. Mr. Mejia, who sustained a broken facial bone, several hematomas to his scalp and legs, and neck and back injuries in the beating, has filed a lawsuit against the company and the individuals – the company’s co-owner and the director of operations – who viciously assaulted him. Click here for a copy of the lawsuit, which details the incident and his injuries. Click here to watch Mr. Mejia’s story on Univision.
  • On August 24, Ricardo Bonilla Colindres was fired by PGT for exercising his legal right to unite with his co-workers by organizing a union at the company. He has filed a charge with the National Labor Relations Board for unlawful discharge due to concerted activity and union support. Click the following hyperlinks for a copy of the NLRB Charge and Transmittal Letter.

All I did was ask for the money I had been promised, and to be paid for every hour worked. What happened to me should never happen to anyone. I want justice for what happened to me. I want to serve as an example of the type of abuse that’s happening on the ports. I don’t want this to ever happen again to someone else,” said Joel Mejia.

The U.S.-based supply chain serving America’s big importers – big box retailers, consumer product manufacturers, and packaged food distributors to name a few – is rife with exploitation and illegal employment practices. No place is this more prevalent than at our nation’s seaports, where short haul truck drivers hauling containerized cargo on and off the docks are routinely called “sharecroppers on wheels” due to misclassification as independent contractors. In California, where the drivers are mostly Latino immigrants, the wage theft can amount to hundreds of thousands of dollars a year per driver, resulting in a series of strikes and job actions that have significantly disrupted the flow of cargo over the last five years.

As misclassified drivers have bravely taken their fight for justice to the streets and to the courts, employee drivers, like those at Pacific Green Trucking, serving America’s largest port complex are stepping out of the shadows to demand an end to a different type of wage theft – being forced by predatory company owners to routinely work off the clock to increase company profits.

“The widespread exploitation of the largely immigrant workforce, and the pervasive wage theft and immoral lawlessness defining the port trucking industry, must end. Pacific Green Trucking engaged in the most egregious of conduct, not only terminating my client, Joel Mejia, for complaining about stolen wages, but abusively beating, kicking, and threatening to kill him and his family, all in brutal retaliation against an employee who dared to stand up for himself,” said Julie Gutman Dickinson, counsel to Mr. Mejia. “The Company’s violent termination of this courageous immigrant worker violated the fundamental public policy in the state of California that employees must be free from retaliation for exercising their right to make complaints about wage theft. The Company is violating the law with impunity, and we will not rest until we bring Pacific Green Trucking to justice.“

“The courage of men like Joel Mejia, who stood up for his right to be paid for every hour worked, and Ricardo Bonilla Colindres, who sought to unite with his co-workers as Teamsters, must not be in vain,” said Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 848. “The ports must hold law-breaking trucking companies accountable, and importers –companies like Herbalife and Kimberly-Clark that contract with Pacific Green Trucking – can no longer turn a blind eye to the dirty secrets in their U.S. supply chain. It is past time for the ports and the retailers to take responsibility for the abusive working conditions and exploitation at America’s largest port complex.”

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Justice for Port Drivers: With the dedicated support from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, plus many other labor, community, and faith allies, we are fighting to change the port trucking industry so we can win justice for ourselves and our families. More than 75,000 strong, we haul our country’s imports and exports for retail companies, for manufacturers, and for the U.S. Military. We are proud to be professional truck drivers and proud of the service we provide. Without us, America would stop.

California Assembly Passes Landmark Legislation to Clean Up Port Trucking Industry

PRESS ADVISORY: August 31, 2018

PORTS OF LOS ANGELES & LONG BEACH, CA – Today, the California State Legislature approved Senate Bill 1402 (Senator Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens)), to restore dignity to the hard-working men and women who haul our nation’s cargo by cleaning up our port trucking industry. The bill now proceeds to the desk of Governor Jerry Brown for signature.

Click here for a copy of the press release from the office of Senator Lara.

The following is a statement from Fred Potter, Vice President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, and Director of the Teamsters Port Division:

“California’s ports are a powerhouse driving our economy and connecting us to the world. The 25,000 men and women who haul cargo containers on and off the docks have some of the hardest and most dangerous jobs in America. More than a decade of court rulings, media stories, and independent reports have revealed rampant labor violations in the port trucking industry, and the State Labor Commissioner has awarded tens of millions of dollars to hundreds of drivers for wage theft due to misclassification as independent contractors. Nevertheless, drivers are still suffering and it is past time for justice.

“We are grateful for the leadership of Senator Lara for introducing this landmark legislation, and for Senator Bradford and Assembly Members Gonzalez Fletcher and Thurmond for co-authoring SB 1402. We urge Governor Brown to sign SB 1402 to restore dignity to the hard-working men and women in the driver’s seats by cleaning up our port trucking industry.”

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Justice for Port Drivers: With the dedicated support from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, plus many other labor, community, and faith allies, we are fighting to change the port trucking industry so we can win justice for ourselves and our families. More than 75,000 strong, we haul our country’s imports and exports for retail companies, for manufacturers, and for the U.S. Military. We are proud to be professional truck drivers and proud of the service we provide. Without us, America would stop.

Justice for Port Drivers Stands With Northwest Port Truckers Who Refuse to Bear the Cost of New Environmental Regulations

***PRESS RELEASE***

Justice for Port Truck Drivers

www.JusticeforPortDrivers.org

PRESS RELEASE: Thursday, January 25, 2017

PRESS CONTACT: Barb Maynard, (323) 351-9321; barb@actnowstrategies.com

Justice for Port Drivers Stands With Northwest Port Truckers Who Refuse to Bear the Cost of New Environmental Regulations

WASHINGTON, DC – For too long port trucking companies, shippers, and retailers have raked in record profits off the back of America’s port drivers, whom the USA Today Network has aptly called “modern day indentured servants.” Treated like employees but illegally paid as “independent contractors,” the drivers’ outdated trucks that are used to haul America’s imports – many with millions of miles on them, which the Los Angeles Times has calculated “are the equivalent of about six round trips to the moon” – spew toxic fumes into local communities.

It’s no surprise that the communities adjacent to the Ports of Seattle and Tacoma have demanded a Clean Truck Program to rid the Puget Sound communities of dirty diesel trucks, and though we applaud The Northwest Seaport Alliance for adopting a Clean Truck Program, we urge them to immediately amend the program to demand that the shippers – the big retailers like Walmart, Target, and Home Depot – pay for the new trucks, not the drivers who have not ability to increase rates to cover the cost of the new regulations.

“We stand with the Puget Sound community, which has demanded clean air, but the truck drivers serving the ports of Seattle and Tacoma should not be forced to choose between good jobs and clean air – we all deserve both. The Northwest ports of Seattle and Tacoma must take responsibility for cleaning up this toxic waste dump. The ports have the power to require the powerful shippers that own the cargo – like Target, Home Depot, and Boeing – to pay drayage rates that cover the cost of purchasing new, clean equipment instead of sticking it to the drivers,” said Fred Potter, Teamsters International Vice President and Director of the Teamsters Port Division.

With the dedicated support from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, plus many other labor, community, and faith allies, Justice for Port Drivers is fighting to change the port trucking industry so drivers and their families can win justice.  More than 75,000 strong, America’s port drivers haul our country’s imports and exports for retail companies, for manufacturers, and for the U.S. Military. We are proud to be professional truck drivers and proud of the service we provide. Without us, America would stop. Read more

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Tracy Ellis – Working Class Hero, Supermom, Shop Steward, and Union Driver

I am a proud mom to 3 older children. My baby boy is 18 years old and studying to become a nurse at Cerritos College. My 19 year old was born with Cerebral Palsy. My 30 year old is studying to get her Real Estate License.
My youngest 2 live with my stepmom right now. We live humbly, we rent a 1 bedroom back house. It’s super small and we don’t have a kitchen, but luckily I became a master at cooking with crockpots and hot plates when I used to drive long distances over-the-road.

I’ve been working at Shippers Transport Express for nearly 3 years. I’ve been a port driver since 2001, and was an over-the-road driver for a while. I then became homeless for a while due to identity theft. We were living out of hotels, which quickly traps you as it becomes way more expensive than living at home. I started working at a port trucking company that misclassified me as an independent contractor. I was required to lease a new truck from the company under the Clean Truck program. One day, I got into my “clean truck” right after it had just been to maintenance. They had left fiberglass pieces in the air ducts, and the moment the air came on the fiberglass shards blasted into my lungs. I rushed to Saint Mary’s with an asthma attack, but then became allergic to the steroid and had to be admitted to ICU. It quickly derailed. My pancreas failed and I became a full-blown diabetic. No medication could help, but even worse – I had no health insurance, and now also no job.

I owed $3,000 on the lease of my brand new clean truck, but I couldn’t pay it without working, and I wasn’t well enough to return to work. I lost my truck. I lost my car. I lost my home. I couldn’t afford these expenses as well as my medical expenses. Once again, I was homeless. It broke me.

I was still homeless when I started working at Shippers, but thankfully having a stable union job helped pull me out of it. I now finally have fair pay, paid time off, sick leave, and vacation time to enjoy with my family. Shippers even has a fleet of mechanics available to repair anything that could break down on my truck immediately. At my previous company, they made me pay for every repair and maintenance cost!

I soon realized that a union contract was a great equalizer. As a woman of color, I was guaranteed equal pay and treatment to my male counterparts, and had an opportunity to become a leader and help my coworkers. Last summer, I was elected Shop Steward.

Being a Shop Steward isn’t easy. It can be a double edged sword, but I consider myself a unity coordinator. As a woman I can navigate different genders and ethnic group more easily than most men. As a woman of color, I have even more opportunity to unify my coworkers.

I hope to push us all forward in a positive direction, as a unified workforce and supply chain. Without unity, nothing can move forward or change at the ports.