CA Trucking Company's Efforts to Keep Misclassified Workers from Unionizing Are Downright Dastardly

A case to be heard by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on August 25th revolves around California trucking company Green Fleet Systems, who the Teamsters union claims has used threats, coercion, and the termination of two employees to squash unionization efforts among misclassified independent contractors. Green Fleet Systems is also accused of illegal surveillance of its workers, including using anti-union agents.  

According to Eric Tate, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 848:

“Green Fleet Systems has done everything they can to stop their drivers from having a voice on the job, but the drivers stayed strong knowing the law was on their side. This is a big moment for Green Fleet drivers who are a leading example across the country that when drivers stick together, they can defend their rights and win justice at the workplace.”

An investigation by the NLRB’s Region 21 found more than 50 violations, including:

• TERMINATING union activist employees MATEO MARES and AMILCAR CARDONA in retaliation for their union and other protected concerted activities, including filing wage claims at the Department of Labor Standards Enforcement;

• Discriminating against employees MATEO MARES and AMILCAR CARDONA by denying work and creating more onerous working conditions in retaliation for engaging in union and/or protected concerted activities and in order to discourage union and protected concerted activities, union membership, and/or support for the union;

• Threatening to terminate employees in retaliation for their union and other protected concerted activities;

• Threatening to cease operations (plant closure) in retaliation for employees’ union and other protected concerted activities

• Threatening to sue employees in retaliation for their union and other protected concerted activities

• Conditioning employees’ ability to continue to work for the Employer on withdrawal of their wage and hour claims filed with the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement (DLSE);

• Encouraging and/or permitting non-union supporter employees to harass, provoke, and/or assault union supporter employees;

• Interrogating employees about their union and other protected concerted activities;

• Threatening job applicants and other employees that the Employer would only hire and employ drivers who did not support the Union;

• Coercing employees to sign anti-union petitions;

• Threatening that union supporters deserve to die;

• Threatening employees that it is impermissible to sign anything with the Union or to have any contact with the Union;

• Engaging in unlawful surveillance of employees’ union activity; and

• Making statements to employees that would give the employees the impression that their union and/or protected concerted activities are under surveillance.

But the planting of “anti-union drivers” by the company — who allegedly made death threats and taught other workers how to harass pro-union drivers — may be the most disturbing of the potential violations. Julie Gutman Dickinson, an attorney working on the case, has been unequiovocal in her commitment to bringing the company to justice:

“Green Fleet is a recidivist employer that has been undaunted in its efforts to circumvent the National Labor Relations Act, including flagrantly violating a prior NLRB settlement agreement and callously waging a campaign of hallmark unfair labor practices designed to nip in the bud and destroy the Union’s organizing drive.  We will take every step necessary to achieve justice for the drivers of Green Fleet.”

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Chaz Bolte
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