XPO Logistics workers in Illinois and Connecticut resisted an intense anti-union campaign and voted in two separate elections to join the Teamsters.
“This is all about us workers standing up to this corporate bully and demanding fair wages, affordable health insurance and an end to the mistreatment,” said Ted Furman an XPO employee at the company’s North Haven, Connecticut warehouse. “XPO’s CEO, Bradley Jacobs, had the audacity to come to our warehouse and tell us we don’t need a union, and then he returned just a couple of days before the election. Well, Mr. Jacobs, we are now proud Teamster members!”
The North Haven warehouse workers on October 13 voted 72-49 to join the Teamsters and became XPO’s first warehouse workers in the US to unionize.
On the same day, XPO drivers in Aurora, Illinois also voted to join Teamsters Local 179.
“Our victory is important to all of us because we have seen how XPO operates since taking over Con-way Freight,” said Cliff Phillips, a driver in Aurora. “XPO is treating us unfairly, denying us any voice on the job and just seems interested in the bottom line. But now we will fight back as Teamsters!”
XPO Logistics is one of the world’s largest transportation and logistics companies. It operates businesses in every link of the supply chain all over the world.
It has been on a buying binge as it tries to capture more of the transportation and logistics market. In 2015, it purchased Con-way Freight, where the Teamsters were conducting an organizing drive.
After the purchase, XPO continued and expanded the anti-union efforts initiated by Con-way.
In Aurora, XPO spent money on a union avoidance company to keep its Aurora site union free.
On the days before the Aurora union vote was taken, consultants from the union avoidance company hopped into the cabs of freight trucks and gave drivers lecutures on the right to work for less by remaining union free.
XPO has used other tactics to prevent workers from joining a union.
In Laredo, Texas, workers at what then was Con-way voted in 2014 to join the Teamsters.
Instead of bargaining with the union, the company went to court to overturn the election.
When XPO bought Con-way, XPO could have withdrawn the challenge and recognized the workers’ union, but the company chose not to.
Unfortunately for XPO, a federal judge in September denied XPO’s request to set aside the Laredo election results.
“The company has tried to do everything to delay and frustrate the workers, but for over two years they have remained strong and united in their fight for a more secure future and a voice on the job,” said Frank Perkins, president of Local 657.
Tyson Johnson, director of the Teamsters Freight Division, urged XPO to halt further efforts to nullify the union vote.
“We demand that the company gets serious about negotiating a contract in Laredo. These workers have waited far too long,” said Johnson.
Shortly after the union victories in Connecticut and Illinois, the Teamsters took advantage of the momentum generated by the pro-union vote and conducted a mass leafletting of XPO work sites.
“The national campaign continues to gain momentum (as). . .workers have realized that the new XPO, which is highly unionized in Europe, needs to be a union employer here in the US, too,” said a posting on the Teamsters XPO Facebook page.
The next union election will take place at an XPO site in King of Prussia, Pennsylvania where 52 drivers will vote on whether to join the Teamsters.
Ryan Janato, an XPO driver in Aurora had a message for the King of Prussia drivers and other XPO workers who want a union voice on the job.
“They said it couldn’t be done. We did it; you can’t be scared of these guys. The union busters come in; they did what they tried to do. It didn’t work. We made a better future for our families and co-workers, and you can do it too. Just believe in your local,” said Janato.