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BusinessIntermodalNewsTrucking Regulation

Universal Intermodal drivers at LA, Long Beach ports vote to join Teamsters

Drivers at Universal Intermodal Services at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach have voted to join Teamsters Local 848, marking the seventh company at the ports to employ workers represented by the union.

There are 28 drivers in the bargaining unit. Workers say they are seeking affordable health insurance, wage increases and retirement benefits. 

“Every single one of us, my coworkers, we all have different reasons for joining the union,” said Universal driver David Lopez. Speaking through an interpreter, Lopez, 50, said his “first and foremost reason” is to gain access to dental insurance. Universal’s pay is inadequate, he added, and in addition to other benefits a Teamsters contract would ensure workers had access to due process.

David Lopez, Driver, Universal Intermodal Services (Image: Justice for Port Drivers)


Representatives from Universal Intermodal and its parent company, Universal Logistics (NASDAQ: ULH), did not respond to FreightWaves’ requests for comment.

About 600 of the approximately 12,000 drivers working the Southern California ports are Teamsters members, Fred Potter, director of the Teamsters Port Division, told FreightWaves. 

In addition to Universal, the other drayage companies with union contracts or representation at the California ports are Toll Group, Sea-Logix, HLT, EcoFlow, Weber Logistics and Pacific 9 Transportation.

The Teamsters’ Port strategy: a complicated history

Union efforts to organize port drivers fits into a broader campaign on the part of the Teamsters and other labor groups alleging that truck drivers at the ports have been misclassified as independent contractors rather than employees.

The Teamster’s role in that campaign has a complicated history, marked by shifting tactics and alliances with environmental groups.

Between 1980 and 2010, the Teamsters had signed zero union contacts at the Southern California ports, said Scott Cummings, a professor of law at UCLA, where he focuses on public interest law and social movements.

The seven contracts signed since then reflect a new organizing strategy launched by the Teamsters after California’s Clean Truck Rule took effect a decade ago, according to Cummings. That rule banned trucks that did not meet the latest emissions standards from entering the ports.

The original clean truck program, backed by the Teamsters, included a labor component requiring trucking companies working at the ports to hire the drivers as employees, rather than treating them as independent contractors.  The idea was to make the companies and not the drivers bear the cost of buying new rigs.

The American Trucking Associations sued and the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals tossed the requirement.

After the union tried but failed to convince the city of Los Angeles to mandate that trucking firms couldn’t access the port without employee drivers, Cummings explained, the Teamsters decided to target directly the drayage operators that had misclassified employees as independent contractors.

“The strategy shifted from trying to get a government agency to mandate reclassification to asserting misclassification was an illegal act and that the drivers were legally speaking employees,” Cummings said.

Given the significant forces — economic, political — arrayed against the Teamsters, he added, “winning even one contract is really, really significant.”

AB5 and misclassification

Other factors are emboldening organized labor. The recent passage of California labor law AB 5 limiting the use of independent contractors marks a big win for the Teamsters and other labor groups, as does Senate Bill 1402, a law that took effect this year making retailers and other customers of port trucking companies liable for contracting with or using port drayage motor carriers who have unpaid wage, tax and workers’ compensation claims.

“It is good legislation,” Potter said, and it is is one reason more companies this year have converted their alleged independent contractors to W-2 employees.

Industry groups are vehemently opposed to the new labor laws. In November, the California Trucking Association (CTA) filed a legal challenge against AB5, saying it will result in 70,000 drivers in the state losing their jobs and that the state legislation violates federal law.

For its part, the Teamsters plans to target other Universal Logistics subsidiaries, Potter said. Universal Logistics has been on an intermodal acquisition spree, and several of the companies have been accused of misclassifying employees as independent contractors.

Reeling from a softened freight market, Universal Logistics’ earnings took a hit in the third quarter. Intermodal services were a bright spot, increasing $39 million to $93.9 million in the second quarter, up from $54.9 million during the same period last year. The increase was attributed in part to revenues generated from acquisitions.

Image: SONAR

Now that Universal drivers have voted to join the Teamsters local, the next step is to negotiate a contract, Lopez said.

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Linda Baker, Staff Writer

Linda Baker is a FreightWaves staff reporter based in Portland, Oregon. Her beat includes mobility, emissions regulations and autonomous trucking. Please send tips and story ideas to lbaker@freightwaves.com.

31 Comments

  1. Part 2

    Greedy Co-op’: Unifor launches nationwide boycott of Co-op retailers
    Quote:

    “Unifor is calling for a nationwide boycott of all Co-op businesses and services as nearly 800 Regina Co-op refinery workers remain locked out by Federated Co-operative Limited (FCL).

    “If Co-op wants to hit refinery workers with a lockout, it’s time to hit Co-op where it hurts,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias.
    FCL is owned by more than 200 Co-op retailers across the country. From Victoria to Winnipeg, Unifor says they will picket “anywhere you see a Co-op logo”.

    “Boycott greedy Co-op groceries, greedy Co-op gas and greedy Co-op hardware,” said Scott Doherty, lead negotiator for Unifor Local 595, who represents the workers.

    On Sunday, Unifor launched a boycott campaign at Hotel Saskatchewan in downtown Regina that will place ads, billboards and picketers at retail locations across Canada.

    “Local Co-ops must speak out to the FCL board and use their power to end this lockout and get refinery workers a fair contract and the pension they were promised by FCL just two years ago,” Dias said.

    The Co-op Refinery maintains they’re offering workers a fair deal which includes an 11.75 per cent wage increase over four years, a performance bonus plan and pension choice.

    “What they fail to mention is the proposal that they’re offering eliminates a savings plan that takes 6.5 per cent out of every worker’s pocket,” said Kevin Bittman, president of Local 594.

    Bittman said members would have to pay 11 per cent into the defined benefit plan and there’d be a change to the formula which would take “hundreds of thousands of dollars out of our pension plans.”

    Their other option is to choose the defined benefit contribution plan by paying four per cent, but that option leaves them with half the benefits workers have now, he says.

    “Retirement planning doesn’t happen overnight, and these changes would be a massive blow to everyone that works out there and their retirement plans,” Bittman said.

    “This dispute isn’t about wages. It’s about respect.”

    In a statement to Global News, the Co-op Refinery said it’s the union who is lacking respect.
    Story continues below advertisement

    “Unifor has demonstrated that they have no respect for the hardworking truck drivers who haul fuel from our refinery and no respect for western Canadian farmers who need fuel to dry and haul their grain during a very difficult crop year.”
    The refinery said Unifor’s lack of respect is now translating to Co-op members across Canada.

    While they weren’t surprised by the boycott, the refinery said they are disappointed as the Union is losing touch with western Canada.

    The union feels otherwise.

    “In the polling that we’ve done, the community and consumers are going to support that they don’t want to be shopping at a [company] that locks out their workers 20 days before Christmas,” said Doherty, who referred to the Co-op as the “Grinch”.

    The refinery continues to urge the union to get back to the bargaining table where they can have “meaningful talks”.
    However, the union says they refuse to budge. They’re hoping the boycott will pressure FCL to bargain a fair deal.

    Unifor Local 594 members have been locked out since Dec. 5.

    End quote ………

    1. Quote :

      “If Co-op wants to hit refinery workers with a lockout, it’s time to hit Co-op where it hurts,” said Unifor National President Jerry Dias ”

      – YOU threatened them with a strike ! THEY retaliated with a lock out !

      Quote :

      “This dispute isn’t about wages. It’s about respect.”

      – No it’s not . By the way are YOU respecting truck drivers trying to get in the refinery and out ? Are YOU respecting the Western farmers who provide you with the food on your table ? YOU are a disgrace to the Western Canadian people due to your bullying tactics and lack of negotiation savoir fair .

      Quote:

      “The union feels otherwise.
      “In the polling that we’ve done, the community and consumers are going to support that they don’t want to be shopping at a [company] that locks out their workers 20 days before Christmas,” said Doherty, who referred to the Co-op as the “Grinch”.

      – Wow now Unifor is being a hypocrite . They threaten the Co-Op with a strike due to a dispute , they then get locked out in response . Then they state that “consumers” are going to support them due to not agreeing with a company that locks out its employees 20 days before Christmas ? What a freaking farce !

      And that’s Unifor for you . What a disgrace . You aren’t getting my support . By the way I supported the Teamsters when they had a dispute with CN Rail recently .

      In this case Western Canadian communities and consumers DEPEND on the Co-Op . So let’s see how willing they are to suffer for employees who tried to bully their financial desires while earning $100k each per year on average WHILE being offered an open door to go back to the negotiation table with a counteroffer . You’re not even trying .

      The surrounding communities can’t survive without the Co-Op . Every other business around those communities should INCREASE THEIR PRICES and take advantage of this so called “boycott” due to a potential increase in demand , LOL !

      Merry Christmas !

      In my humble opinion …………

  2. Furthermore , the Co-Op should announce a GIANT CO-OP CHRISTMAS SALE and mark down their prices on all products offered to the general public at their Co-Ops. >>>>>> Focus on “volume”<<<<<<< !

    Be the first to offer a Road Mile Card ! Never mind "Air Miles" ! ROAD MILES ON FUEL & GASOLINE with every purchase at a Co-Op ! Use your accumulated Road Mile points and redeem them at the pump and obtain a bigger rebate than you would when purchasing other Co-Op goods . YEEE HAAAA !

    And increase security , put pressure on the Mayor too . Get those tanker trucks rolling in and out like lightening like speed !

    The Co-Op is going to increase their fuel demand !!!! Give New Road Mile Card members 5 litres on a 25 litre purchase just for signing up during the GIANT CO-OP CHRISTMAS SALE LIMITED TIME OFFER !!!

    Unifor will quickly find out just how supportive people are when they can save a buck or two , LOL ! Even their members will be running to the Co-Op pumps , LOL !

    MERRY CHRISTMAS Unifor !

    In my humble opinion ……….

    1. The Co-Op should also announce that during this wonderful season in a gesture to embrace the spirit of giving , they would like to contribute a portion from each and every sale as a donation to help several of their wonderful community’s needs on the behalf of the community .
      Example:
      1- Regina Early Learning Center
      2- ALL 5 Child Health Clinics
      3- Several Churches to help the deprived have a Merrier Christmas during this holiday season .

      And thank the community on the behalf of these organizations for their selfless generous contribution and support for helping another’s life become a little more pleasant .

      Unifor ! Where is your community contribution ?

      Now by asking the community to support your Co-Op selfish boycott , you’ll be attempting to persuade the community in harming the financially deprived as well as children with health problems ! Who would appear to be the heartless Grinch now ?

      You make this too easy !

      I hope the Co-Op pulls something among these lines off ! The shrewd act of kindness would incite the public not only to buy more at a Co-Op as they would save on marked down prices during a GIANT CO-OP CHRISTMAS SALE , but also by doing so they would be contributing to the needy during this seasonal “selfless” spirit of giving through their purchases !

      I think the community(s) would be boycotting Unifor ! (wink)

      The Co-Op should respond to your unethical attempts at tarnishing their reputation with a shrewd act of kindness towards the public . Now that would not only be “priceless” , it would be extremely profitable !

      In my humble opinion ……………….

  3. The Co-Op responds

    Quote from their website :

    Unifor’s call for boycott no surprise, out of touch with Western Canada
    December 15, 2019

    Unifor’s announcement calling for a boycott of community-owned local co-ops across Western Canada comes as no surprise, but it is disappointing. This Toronto-based union continues to demonstrate that it simply doesn’t understand the refining industry or the Western Canadian economy.  

    Over the past week, Unifor has demonstrated that they have no respect for the hard-working truck drivers who haul fuel from our refinery and no respect for Western Canadian farmers who need fuel to dry and haul their grain during a very difficult crop year.

    Unifor is now demonstrating that same lack of respect for Co-op members across Western Canada that work hard to support our economy. Local co-ops across the west have invested billions in the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC) to grow and expand the refinery’s operation over the past decade.

    For example, in 2013, Co-op opened the $3.67B Section V expansion, which created 150 new unionized positions. This investment also created significant economic growth  for Regina and Saskatchewan. Local co-ops and their members deserve more respect for these investments and the prosperity they’ve produced. 

    Despite Unifor’s misleading claims today, we have offered them a fair deal. Our deal includes an 11.75 per cent wage increase, a performance bonus plan and pension choice. The CRC is only asking that employees now begin to pay into their pension like almost every other Canadian with a company-provided pension plan.

    We encourage Unifor to return to the table and bargain, something they haven’t done since Sept. 26, 2019.  In fact, Unifor has yet to even offer a counter-proposal during the negotiation process. It’s time to get back to the table and have meaningful talks.

    End quote .

  4. .
    The ignorance Unifor is demonstrating by asking for COMMUNITY support to boycott THEMSELVES .

    Quote : “Unifor’s announcement for a boycott of ‘community-owned local co-ops’ across Western Canada ”

    And they expect community support to harm themselves ??? ROTFLMAO ! That would be like Unifor asking COMMUNITY OWNED Co-Op members to buy a hanging rope from Unifor to hang themselves to support Unifor .

    Where in the heck do they find these so called union leaders from ???

    I re-quote :

    “The union feels otherwise.
    “In the polling that we’ve done, the community and consumers are going to support that they don’t want to be shopping at a [company] that locks out their workers 20 days before Christmas,” said Doherty, who referred to the Co-op as the “Grinch”.

    ROTFLMAO !

    So according to what Unifor is trying to make the public believe through their so called Hocus Pocus “polling” , is that the “COMMUNITY” which owns COMMUNITY OWNED CO-OPS are going to boycott themselves in support of Unifor .

    How can anyone join such an absurd mentality ?

    The Co-Op and consumers must be laughing so hard that they must be experiencing stomach cramps while lacking a momentarily capability to breathe .

    Furthermore , in an attempt to demonstrate the current Unifor mentality .

    Unifor leaders broke the law through unlawful disturbances . So the police came to enforce the law towards the unlawful Unifor disturbers . Unifor then states that the “Police” is unfairly favouring the Co-Op by doing so . This is the sort of Kindergarten grade manipulative unethical mentality Unifor is demonstrating they have .

    Quote :

    Unifor disappointed by Regina Police Service siding with Co-op Refinery to push through picket lines

    REGINA, Dec. 10, 2019 /CNW/ – The Regina Police Service (RPS) has supported Co-op Refinery’s anti-union mandate by escorting vehicles through legal picket lines late Monday night, says Unifor.

    “By intervening without a court order, RPS has shown not only highly questionable judgement, but also contempt for the highly-skilled workers fighting back against the company’s aggressive demand for concessions,” says Jerry Dias, Unifor National President. “Unifor members have kept the picket lines rock solid and respectful.”

    Since being locked out by Co-op Refinery on December 5, picket lines of Unifor Local 594 members have allowed fuel trucks to enter and exit the refinery in a display of good faith. When RPS arrived on the scene of a parts supply van attempting to enter the refinery’s gate #2, the officers threatened to arrest union members if they refused to let the van pass, siding with the company.”

    End quote .

    From my perspective , if you’re causing a disturbance on public property then it isn’t “legal” !!! You’re disturbing the PEACE ! And you are not to TRESPASS on private property ! If YOU commit a crime law enforcement doesn’t need a court order to stop you ! There are LAWS !

    Quote :

    “Am I allowed to organize or participate in a protest?
    Protesting itself is legal, as long as you don’t break any laws while you’re at it. Section 2 of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms guarantees your right to protest. In some cities and towns you are required to have a permit to protest. Check your municipal by-laws if you are thinking of organizing a protest.”

    RE-freaking QUOTE !

    “Protesting itself is legal, as long as you don’t break any laws while you’re at it. ”

    Quote:

    This topic will discuss the general aspects of the criminal offence under the Criminal Code of Canada, Causing a Disturbance.
    Conduct that disturbs public peace and order in or near a public place is an offence according to the Criminal Code of Canada. The conduct may be fighting, shouting, singing, using insulting or obscene language, loitering, being drunk, discharging firearms, or impeding, harassing or molesting other persons.

    In order to be convicted of causing a disturbance you must be in a public place. A public place is defined as a space that the public has access to. Examples include but are not limited to shopping malls, parking lots, restaurants, streets, parks, bars and office buildings. Someone’s private home is not a public place. If you were shouting at a party in a friend’s home, you could not be convicted of causing a disturbance.

    However, you may be charged with causing a disturbance if you disturb the peace of persons in a dwelling (house or apartment) home. Thus, if you disturb the peace of those who normally expect quiet by engaging in disorderly conduct in the public hall of an apartment building you may be charged with causing a disturbance. Similarly, if you were shouting in an area outside the yard of a private home on the street, you could face charges. A charge of causing a disturbance may also result if you use obscene language, yell or cause any sort of disturbance when you are stopped by a police officer in the normal course of their duties.

    If a police officer gives evidence that your conduct was disturbing someone else, which may be enough evidence to convict you. If you were fighting on the street, and crowd gathers, the officer’s evidence that there was a crowd and their impression of the effect on the fighting in the crowd may be enough to show that you caused a disturbance. The Crown Prosecutor must prove that you actually caused a disturbance by that conduct or activity. It is not necessary to demonstrate that the offender intended to create the disturbance.

    The conviction of causing a disturbance is a summary conviction and you will be sentenced to pay a fine up to $2,000 or up to 6 months imprisonment. You should seek legal advice if you have been charged with this offence, as your conviction will result in a criminal record.”

    End quote .

    Disturbing the peace is disorderly conduct and Unifor has been enticing members to disturb the peace . Why would a “leader” incite “members” to put themselves in harms way ??? Question the “leader” and the tactics you’re being manipulated to apply ! If you break the law and obtain a criminal record for doing so , and the Co-Op has a policy that indicates that they don’t hire people with criminal records , you can kiss your job good-bye permanently . You have now been painted as DISORDERLY . No company desires a trouble maker and they have a legal right to refuse any association with “criminals” .

    In my humble opinion ………………..

  5. Rather than play around with tit for tat , why not ask a different question ?

    Since you both are extremely valuable assets to each other and to your communities , what can you BOTH reasonably propose and agree upon to ensure that this sort of a dispute between the both of you will never reoccur and at the same time will be extremely prosperous for all of you involved ?

    Here is a hint : The business is a “Co-Op” ! WHAT IS A “CO-OPERATIVE” ?

    If you answered the question correctly then not only have you realized that you should be “partners” , you also eliminated the need for a “labour union” . This is what ” I ” would be focusing upon . Then everyone involved would be on the same page . I certainly wouldn’t be wasting my energy for “pennies” and then to have to repeat and renegotiate for more pennies ad nauseam .

    Power is a wonderful thing if you know how to use it and use it ethically . You need a reasonable sustainable change , not a temporary one .

    Analogy : 2 magnets
    Turn your “magnets” around . Currently they are positioned in a way which forces them apart rather than bringing them together . There’s no two ways those magnets will reasonably come together , just one . The same goes for a sustainable meeting of the minds .

    In my humble opinion ……………….

  6. UPDATE ! Co-op Refinery Complex vs Unifor

    And the battle continues !

    Quote :
    Refinery labour dispute moves to courtroom as injunction sought

    “The Co-op Refinery Complex has filed an injunction against Unifor, seeking a court ruling on the way picketers can operate.”

    End quote .

    This should help ,quote myself : , “Get those tanker trucks rolling in and out like lightening like speed !”

    Furthermore , Unifor attempted to engage in an “economic strike” versus an “unfair labour practice strike ” before they were locked out , and serious misconduct can also cause employees involved to lose their right to reinstatement .

    They should be vigilant !

    Stay Tuned !

    In my humble opinion …………..

  7. Quote from Co-op Refinery on twitter December 11 2019

    CoopRefinery

    Wow! Yesterday, more than 415,000 litres were sold as part of Fuel the Fight. This record-breaking result translates into a donation of more than $83,000 to the @cancerfdnsask in support of the Allan Blair Cancer Centre. Thank you for your support, Regina and surrounding area!

    1. Ask yourselves , is this what Unifor is trying to prevent through their boycott ? They want to STALL GOOD PEOPLE FROM HELPING PEOPLE IN NEED ! That’s $83K going to help people in need thanks to the Co-Op ! Now “who” is SELFISH and an uncaring GRINCH ?

      Be wise , be vigilant . Don’t let anyone mislead you .

      Unifor unethical tactics are a disgrace and they’re tarnishing their own reputation big time ! I hope everyone see’s through their hypocrisy .

      In my humble opinion …………

  8. UPDATE !

    Quote :
    December 18 2019

    Regina judge puts limits on Unifor pickets in refinery labour dispute

    At least until the full injunction application can be decided, a Regina judge has put restrictions on picketing unionized workers locked out of the Co-op Refinery Complex (CRC).

    The order, issued by Court of Queen’s Bench Justice Janet McMurtry, restrains the members of Unifor Local 594 from “impeding, obstructing or interfering with the ingress or egress to or from the applicant’s (CRC) property, except for the purpose of conveying information and/or soliciting support to a maximum of five minutes.”

    Further into the article ,

    Quote :

    “In her order, McMurtry also notes that Unifor filed a copy of its instructions to its member, titled The Right to Picketing — Picketing Guide. “Members are expected to follow those instructions. Failure to follow the instructions may very well influence the result of the application to restrict picketing, scheduled for December 23,” wrote McMurtry.

    The judge noted that while the company claims individual picketers “have intimidated and assaulted persons attempting to cross the picket line,” it’s for police to enforce criminal breaches of the law. “Therefore an interim order is not necessary to avert serious mischief,” she added.”

    End quote .

    1. Now look at what the ignorant , executive assistant to Unifor’s national president replied , LOL !

      Quote:

      “Scott Doherty, executive assistant to Unifor’s national president, told reporters Tuesday the proposed injunction is sweeping and the union intends to fight it. “They want the courts to basically determine everything and anything that can happen on the picket line,” he said.”

      Re-quote :

      ” They want the courts to basically determine everything and anything that can happen on the picket line,” he said.”

      End quote .

      UNIFOR , YOU ABUSED OF YOUR LIBERTY BY ABUSING OTHERS AND YOU BROKE THE LAW ON THE PICKET LINE !

      Conduct yourself and your members appropriately and there will be no need for the courts to “determine” what you can and or cannot do .

      I can’t believe the incompetence of that labour union’s executive assistant . Unbelievable !

      In my humble opinion ……….

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