Employee drivers who work for the Toll Group logistics company in Southern California won an historic election Wednesday to become one of the few harbor trucking fleets in the U.S. to become unionized.
In an election sanctioned by the National Labor Relations Board, the drivers voted 46-15 in favor of joining the Teamsters union, according to Change to Win, a coalition of labor, community and faith-based organizations supported by the Teamsters.
Toll Group, which is based in Australia, is a logistics company that handles brand-name fashion imports in Los Angeles-Long Beach. The Teamsters have been working since last summer to organize the drivers.
Drivers in Southern California said they have set the stage for other organizing efforts across the country. “Our victory means we are finally getting closer to the American dream. If we can win here, I know other port truck drivers across the U.S. can unite just like we did,” said Orlando Ayala, who has been driving in the ports for 10 years.
However, the Toll drivers are employees, so the Teamsters faced no legal impediment to unionizing them.
The Teamsters have been working for several years to organize harbor truck drivers at container ports across the country. In most cases, the drivers are owner-operators, and by law, independent contractors can not be unionized. The Teamsters in those situations normally attempt to demonstrate that the drivers are intentionally being misclassified, but so far the union has not been successful in those attempts.
The Toll drivers in Southern California received support from the Transport Workers Union in Australia. Toll employs about 12,000 unionized workers in that country.