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19 Jan 2022

Josh Eidelson, Bloomberg

USA: XPO Logistics truckers petition to unionise & file complaint alleging the company is falsely classifying them as contractors & refusing to recognise the union

"LA Port Truckers Seek to Unionize in New Gig Work Showdown"

Hundreds of truckers...are petitioning to unionize, hoping to convince federal authorities they’re really employees and not contractors as their company claims.

In a Wednesday filing with the National Labor Relations Board, the Teamsters union requested a unionization election be held among around 250 drivers who work for the logistics company XPO Logistics Inc.

Drivers say they want to win workplace benefits, such as healthcare, that they’ve been excluded from as so-called contractors, and address long-running issues like low pay, which the union argues contributes to the worker shortages currently roiling company supply chains.

“XPO has 100% control over our work -- XPO tells us what time we start, where we go... We have to check in with them hourly,” driver Domingo Avalos said in an interview...

The union says it has signed up the majority of the drivers...the union also filed a complaint...with the NLRB accusing the company of violating labor law by wrongly telling workers that they’re contractors, and by acting “in bad faith” by refusing to recognize the union after a majority of workers had signed up... 

“We respect the right of every employee to choose or decline union membership,” spokesperson Joe Checkler said in an emailed statement. “Our employees have largely declined union representation, believing that we can best achieve our shared goals by maintaining collaborative relationships.” 

The company said it has around 12,000 truckers classified as employees and only a few hundred drivers classified as contractors, who are “welcome to apply” for open positions as employees if they’d like...

Under U.S. law, independent contractors are excluded from unionization rights as well as other employment protections such as those concerning discrimination and the minimum wage. So before holding any election, labor board officials would need to consider whether XPO has enough control over the drivers to legally be considered their employer under the National Labor Relations Act.