BREAKING NEWS: Unions Mount International Effort Against XPO Logistics
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters, together with representatives of labor unions from the UK, France, and Belgium, attended the annual shareholders meeting of XPO Logistics in Greenwich, Connecticut, today to confront the company’s management over what the Teamsters call “wage theft in excess of $200 million because of persistent misclassification as independent contractors.”
Union representatives reported, in a telephone press conference following the meeting, that XPO’s management refused to discuss the issue with them.
The Teamsters, together with the European unions, also complained over XPO’s breaking its promise” not to layoff workers for 18 months after XPO’s purchase of Norbert Dentressangle SA.
“In the United States, our primary issue is the misclassification of port drivers,” said Fred Potter, director of the Teamsters port division. “In their last-mile delivery system, XPO misclassifies workers by labeling them as independent contractors but there is nothing independent about them.”
XPO dismissed the union’s assertions as “a publicity stunt by the Teamsters.” “We have excellent relationships with our employees and the owner operators who serve our customers,” said a company spokesperson. “Our drivers and the owner operators we do business with are aware that we pay them more than their union counterparts in other companies.”
The union representatives tacitly admitted that the XPO drivers earn good hourly wages, but they complained that the workers aren’t paid overtime and that they lack quality healthcare and retirement plans. Potter also noted that XPO’s independent port drivers must pay for truck rentals as well as fuel, insurance, and repair costs.
The Teamsters especially complained about the conditions of former Con-Way employees after the takeover of that company by XPO. “They felt like they worked for a family company,” said Potter. “They didn’t always agree with management but they had an open door and could be heard. They felt like they had value.”
“We are here to carry a clear message to the company that the unions in Europe are in total solidarity with the Teamsters,” said Thierry Mayer, and XPO Driver in France and a member of Confédération Générale du Travail (CGT).
Of 41 XPO locations, 21 are on strike, according to Fred Rouaux of Confédération Française Démocratique du Travail (CFDT). “Unfortunately there are no negotiations with management,” he said.
There have also been a number of strikes against XPO in Southern California, noted Potter. “Some last for one day, others for multiple days,” he said. “The drivers feel they have no other way to express themselves but to go the streets.”
The unions promised continued concerted action. “If XPO is able to globalize its transportation activities,” said Rouaux, “we are able to globalize our union activities.”