Toll Global Forwarding dismissed on Monday Teamsters union charges that the logistics company pays its employee drivers in Southern California below market rates and is trying to delay the union’s efforts to organize 74 harbor truck drivers.
Toll has 12,000 employees represented by unions in Australia, where the company is based. “Like many companies, we appreciate the value of unions and are happy to work with them if our employees choose to join,” said Andrew Ethell, general manager of group corporate affairs.
In a teleconference last week with reporters, the Teamsters charged Toll is using what it called the bureaucratic process of the National Labor Relations Board to delay a vote by the harbor truck drivers, which it claims are paid 32 percent less than market rates.
For many freight operators, the battle between the logistics company and the Teamsters suggests what they believe would happen in California and around the country if the union is successful in changing federal law regarding trucking regulation and harbor operations.
Unlike the majority of harbor drayage companies in the U.S., Toll uses employee drivers rather than independent contractors. Unions cannot organize independent contractors, but it is legal for unions to attempt to organize employee drivers.
Ethell said on Monday Toll pays its Los Angeles drivers at least the equal of competitors in the Southern California market.
“The Teamsters campaign has from time to time acknowledged this, arguing that Toll should pay significantly more than our competitors in order to somehow lead a general increase in U.S. drayage wages,” Toll said.
According to Toll, the Teamsters have been trying to organize its drivers for seven months, but the union failed to file a petition for election with the NLRB. Toll charged the Teamsters could not get enough support among the drivers for a vote, a charge that the union denies.
The Teamsters on Jan. 23 finally filed for a vote. “Toll believes it should be up to employees, via this official ballot, to decide whether they need representation, and welcomes this latest development,” Ethell said.
Toll called false the Teamsters’ charge the drivers do not have access to clean restrooms. Toll said the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration audited the yard in question in December and found “no violation of any standard, rule, order or regulation.”