Women fight sexual harassment at XPO

Women workers from an XPO Logistics warehouse in Memphis traveled to Seattle to demand that their employer be held accountable for sexual harassment that they are experiencing on the job.

The women were joined in Seattle by women’s rights activists and members of the Teamsters union who demonstrated with them at Verizon’s annual shareholders meeting.

Verizon contracts with XPO to operate the Memphis warehouse where a number of Verizon’s products are stored and shipped to customers all over the US.

In April three women at the warehouse filed charges with Equal Employment Opportunity Commission charging that XPO supervisors had groped them and made inappropriate and unwanted sexual comments and advances toward them.

A few weeks later, five more women filed similar charges.

“My coworkers and I were sexually harassed all the time with nowhere to turn,” said Lakeisha Nelson, one of the women who filed charges against XPO. “Our warehouse is an essential part of Verizon’s supply chain, and I hope now that we have the ear of Verizon’s CEO and board, that the company will help us end supervisor sexual harassment and misconduct at XPO once and for all.”

Later in the day, Nelson and Tasha Murrell, another XPO employee, met with Verizon CEO Lowell McAdam and two Verizon board members to discuss the charges.

After the meeting, a Verizon spokesperson told USA Today that as soon as Verizon learned of the charges, the company began its own investigation into the matter.

At the Seattle demonstration, Nelson and Murrell were joined by supporters of the TimesUp and MeToo campaigns against sexual harassment.

Prior to the demonstration, prominent activists in the two campaigns wrote a letter to McAdam informing him and the Verizon board about the charges.

The letter was signed by Gloria Sweet-Love, president of the NAACP Tennessee State Conference, Cherisse A. Scott, CEO and founder of SisterReach, Elizabeth Gedmark, senior staff attorney/director of the Southern Office of A Better Balance: The Work and Family Legal Center, Sarah David Heydemann, legal fellow, Workplace Justice National Women’s Law Center, and Gabrielle Carteris, president SAG-AFTRA

James P. Hoffa, general president of the Teamsters, also signed the letter.

According to the letter, most of the workers at the Memphis XPO warehouse are African-American women, and most of the supervisors are white men.

The letter goes on to describe some of the harassment that XPO women workers endure.

“Numerous women told stories of how they and their coworkers regularly faced
disturbing behavior from their supervisors, including aggressive groping and grabbing,
uncomfortable sexual comments, and retaliation for reporting harassment to HR or not
entertaining the sexual advances,” states the letter.

The signees called on Verizon to “hold XPO accountable for the shocking and inexcusable
treatment of its workers.”

In addition to sexual harassment, workers at the XPO Memphis warehouse have other grievances including dangerous working conditions, low pay, having to work shifts that can last as long as 15 hours, and lack of control over their fluctuating hours, shifts, and work week.

They are also angry about the company’s lack of respect toward them.

“XPO management forces workers to remove their bras at the security checkpoint, we see snakes, rats, lizards and bugs,” said Elizabeth Howley, an XPO worker in April. “We don’t have any nurses or defibrillators, and no one is allowed to do CPR, even if certified. A co-worker died and we had to work around her body. We don’t deserve to be treated like this. No one does.”

Howley was referring to Linda Jo Neal, a 58-year old XPO Memphis worker who in October collapsed on the job and died of a heart attack.

According to XPO workers who were on the scene when Neal collapsed, those who tried to help her were warned by supervisors not to do so under threat of disciplinary action.

These conditions have led XPO workers to begin trying to organize a union.

They have received help from the Teamsters who have an ongoing organizing campaign at XPO, one of the biggest and fastest growing logistics companies in the world.

The Teamsters have won union election campaigns at XPO warehouses in Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

But XPO has relied on questionable and possibly illegal tactics to keep from bargaining with the union.

In January, an administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board ruled that XPO violated the law when it withheld raises from workers who voted to join the union and required the company to pay the workers millions of dollars owed to them in back pay.

One thing that the Memphis workers have in common with other XPO workers is that the company treats its frontline workers as so many interchangeable parts, as if they were just gears in a machine.

“I am human,” said Nelson at a union rally in April. “(XPO must) treat me as such. Give me that respect.”


JetBlue flight attendants turn the tide; vote to unionize

While teacher strikes dominated the labor news during April, another group of white-collar workers made an important statement when they voted to unionize,

Just like teachers in West Virginia and other states who decided that collective action is the only way to get their voice heard, JetBlue flight attendants voted 2661 to 1274 to join the Transport Workers Union (TWU).

John Samuelson, TWU’s president, said that the union vote at JetBlue is “yet another example of the tide turning in America as workers continue to lock arms and fight back to defend their livelihoods.”

Since JetBlue began operations in 1998, management has styled the airline as a new kind of business: one that brings “humanity back to air travel.”

JetBlue, so the story went, would use technology to enhance air travel for customers, and build a direct relationship with employees to make JetBlue a great place to work.

Unions might be needed at other airlines, but at JetBlue, a third party such as a union could only get in the way of this direct and special relationship shared by employer and employee.

Unfortunately, a third party did get in the way of this special relationship, but it wasn’t a union.

Wall Street investors began demanding more profits from JetBlue, and management paid attention to this third party.

To appease Wall Street, JetBlue began looking for ways to cut costs to boost profits.

The company added more seats to their airplanes and reduced the number of flight attendants on them.

It reduced cleaning staff and made flight attendants perform more of the cleaning work.

To save money of health care costs, it dramatically increased the amount that employees pay for their health care benefit.

It also kept flight attendants’ pay well below industry standards set by unionized airlines.

When the company’s own work rules got in the way of its profits, management arbitrarily revised or reinterpreted them without any input from employees, belying the company’s direct relationship with employees.

These grievances along with the fact that JetBlue is an at will employer with no grievance procedures for appealing unjust firings or disciplinary actions made some flight attendants think that they needed a union, and they contacted TWU.

TWU organizers helped the union supporters set up an organizing committee, and members of the organizing committee began circulating union authorization cards asking for a union representation at JetBlue.

When word about the organizing campaign got out last summer, management launched an aggressive counter attack.

In e-mails and direct mailings to flight attendants, the company ignored the fact that its own employees were the driving force behind the organizing campaign and blamed it on outside agitators.

A company email to flight attendants called TWU “an opportunistic and negative third party” and accused the union of criminal behavior.

Labor Press reports that JetBlue worked with the right-wing anti-union groups Center for Union Facts and the National Right to Work (for less) Defense Foundation to carry out its anti-union campaign.

It also hired a union avoidance law firm.

In addition to a barrage of misinformation sent by e-mail and direct mail, anti-union websites purportedly operated by flight attendants popped up urging flight attendants to reject the union.

JetBlue also took a softer approach. In January, one month after union supporters petitioned the National Mediation Board for a union election, the company announced that it was giving all employees a $1000 bonus because of the new tax cut.

But neither the company’s hard line nor its soft approach proved effective.

When the results of the  union election were announced on April 16, 66 percent of the more than 4000 flight attendants who voted, voted for the union.

The next step will be for the union to gather information from members and decide what issues to take to the bargaining table.

JetBlue has already indicated that it may try to delay the negotiations in hopes that the union will be unable to sustain itself.

As part of its anti-union pitch before the election, JetBlue pointed to the length of time it took for TWU to negotiate a first contract with Allegiant airlines, and intimated that a union at JetBlue would face the same uphill battle.

What the company failed to mention is that when TWU finally did negotiate its first collective bargaining agreement with Allegiant, flight attendants got a 33 percent pay raise over the five years of the agreement.

Samuelson said that TWU had no intention of letting negotiations with JetBlue drag on for a long time.

“TWU intends to immediately commence contract bargaining with JetBlue,” Samuelson said. “It is our sincerest wish that the company comes to the table and bargains a fair and just contract with the workers they employ. But if JetBlue refuses to bargain in good faith, this union is prepared to engage in a fight back campaign that will continue until a contract is secured and the inflight crew members are protected.”



Landslide union victory at LA Times

Union supporters in the Los Angeles Times newsroom won a landslide victory in a recent union-representation election.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on January 19 announced that 248 newsroom employees voted to join the NewsGuild-CWA while 44 voted against.

In an open letter to colleagues, union supporters in October made their organizing campaign public.

The letter, signed by 44 news staff employees, said that the Times needed a union “to safeguard the future of the Los Angeles Times and improve newsroom conditions.”

Times management countered with its own aggressive anti-union campaign.

Despite management’s active resistance, union supporters won 85 percent of the votes.

After the results of the vote were announced, the organizing committee issued a press release.

“We’ve long been a proud voice for our readers,” said the committee. “Finally, we can be a proud voice for ourselves. Anyone familiar with the history of The Times — and of Los Angeles itself — knows the significance of what we’ve just accomplished.”

The history of the Times has been a mixture of journalistic excellence, management’s anti-union rancor, and in recent years, a takeover by outsiders with little interests in maintaining the paper’s high standards.

The Columbia Journalism Review (CSJ) reports that the Time’s antipathy toward unions began more than a century ago when the Chandler family, “one of the most powerful and anti-union families in Southern California” ran the paper.

Otis Chandler became the paper’s publisher in 1960. He retained his family’s anti-union stance while transforming the Times into a well-respected newspaper that produced quality reporting.

In 2000, the Chandlers sold the Times to the Chicago-based Tribune Publishing company, which rebranded itself in 2016 as Tronc.

According to CSJ, before the Times was sold, it was thriving financially, but after the sale, the paper’s “pages and staff fell prey to endless cuts and carvings by bean counters in Chicago.”

The cuts and carvings reduced newsroom staff from 1200 to less than 500.

Staff reductions created an unstable work environment and an excessive workload for those who remained. As a result morale plummeted.

To make matters worse, newsroom staff hadn’t received a cost of living raise since 2010, and pay for women and people of color lagged behind.

Moreover, while the paper itself and the community it serves were becoming more diverse, the paper’s top leadership remained predominately male and white.

These conditions led a group in the newsroom to start talking about forming a union.

The group contacted NewsGuild-CWA, formed an organizing committee, and announced publicly in October that they were organizing a union.

The organizing committee collected signed union authorization cards from 70 percent of the newsroom staff and in December petitioned the NLRB for a union representation election.

Tronc’s management team at the Times, led by former Yahoo executive Ross Levinsohn, fought back.

Among other things, management claimed that organizing committee members wanted to improve wages and benefits for young workers at the expense of older workers.

The union responded with its own outreach campaign. Using the internet, social media, and one-on-one discussions, organizing committee members told their colleagues that a union would improve conditions for all, not a select few.

Management also told staff that a union wouldn’t help them get better pay and benefits because the company didn’t have enough money.

The organizing campaign conducted some investigative reporting and found that Tronc had more than enough money to improve pay and working conditions, but instead of doing so, Tronc’s top executives were lavishing themselves with excessive pay and expensive perks.

“Executive compensation (at Tronc) shot up by 80 percent last year,” reported the organizing committee.

Tronc’s CEO Justin Dearborn in 2016 was paid $8.1 million in total compensation, “substantially more than his counterparts at the New York Times Co., Gannett Corp, Dow Jones/Wall Street Journal, and McClatchy.”

Tronc’s Chairman Michael Ferro traveled in a private jet that cost Tronc $4.6 million between February 2016 and September 2017.

Tronc subleased the jet from Merrick Ventures, a company owned by Ferro.

Before the union election took place, union supporters tweeted why they were voting yes for the union.

Jaweed Kaleem, who covers race and justice issues for the Times said he wanted a more equitable and just place to work.

“Our newspaper has no problem pointing out inequalities outside our building. It’s time to seriously address them inside — locking in pay, benefits and editorial independence,” wrote Kaleem.

Business reporter Geoffrey Mohan tweeted, “After three decades in journalism, I won’t stand by while outside, nouveau investors try to turn local journalism into a sweatshop. I support @latguild.”

After their victory was announced, the union organizing committee said that the next step will to be for union members to elect a negotiating team to bargain with the Times management.

The new union laid out what it wants to accomplish at the bargaining table.

“We know what we want. It’s nothing extraordinary. Regular raises to keep up with the cost of inflation. Better parental leave policies. Equal pay and better treatment for women and journalists of color. Just-cause firing protections. Better severance packages. A voice to safeguard our ethical standards and the quality of our journalism.

In short, “a fair shake from management.”

Tesla workers fight back against mass firings

The United Autoworkers (UAW) on October 26 filed a second round of unfair labor practices charges against Tesla, the US’ largest manufacturers of electric cars.

Among the six charges that the union filed with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), one charges the company with firing some of its factory workers for trying to organize a union

Tesla says that the firings, which affected employees throughout the company, not just production workers, was for performance-based reasons.

But Mike Williams, a union supporter at Tesla’s factory in Fremont, California, said his own performance report showed no problems at work.

“I worked hard for this company for five years, sometimes 72 hours a week and never had any performance-related complaints,” said Williams. “I did, however, wear a union shirt. And I had union stickers on my water bottle. And I believed that a union would make us safer, and would make the company more organized and more efficient. I hate to think that I was targeted because of it. And it’s not just me. Hundreds of other people were let go with no warning. I want Tesla to know that we are more than just numbers. I have kids, I have a family, and this job meant everything to us.”

Before UAW filed its latest charges against Tesla, some of the fired workers and their supporters rallied in front of the Fremont Tesla plant to demand reinstatement of the fired workers.

They also delivered a letter from their community supporters urging Tesla to rehire the fired workers. The letter said that the company’s publicly stated reasons sounded phony.

“We find the mass firings surprising given that Tesla is in ‘production hell’ and has fallen behind its stated goals for producing its Model 3,” states the letter.

When Tesla opened its Fremont plant, its CEO Elon Musk called it a “factory of the future.”

But an article appearing in the Guardian last May make it sound more like a factory from a dark and dreary past.

According to the Guardian, “ambulances have been called more than 100 times since 2014 for workers experiencing fainting spells, dizziness, seizures, abnormal breathing, and chest pains, according to incident reports obtained by the Guardian. Hundreds more were called for injuries and other medical issues.”

“I’ve seen people pass out, hit the floor like a pancake, and smash their face open,” said Jonathan Galescu, a Tesla production technician to the Guardian. “They just send us to work around him while he’s still lying on the floor.”

Conditions like these, lower than industry standard pay, and excessive overtime caused some Tesla workers to start talking about forming a union.

In January, the union organizing drive went public. Union supporters wore union buttons, t-shirts, and stickers and began talking to the press about conditions inside the plant.

Workers said that when their organizing campaign went public, Tesla began to harass and coerce union supporters.

In April, UAW filed unfair labor practices charges against Tesla. Among other things, the UAW charged Tesla with requiring workers to sign a restrictive confidentiality agreement that prevents them from discussing working conditions with others.

In August, the National Labor Relations Board agreed that Tesla had broken the law and filed a complaint against the company.

A hearing on that complaint is scheduled for November 14.

Then on October 13, Tesla announced a mass firing of employees that included engineers, managers, and factory workers.

Reports on the firings estimated that between 400 and 700 employees were terminated.

But pro-union supporters said that they thought that as many as 1000 were fired.

Just about two weeks after the firings, some of the fired pro-union workers and their supporters demonstrated in front of the Tesla factory.

The protesters then marched into a Tesla’s Fremont showroom and held a rally.

Richard Valle, Alameda County Commissioner, was one of a number of local elected officials who joined Tesla workers at the rally.

Valle said that Elon Musk may be worth billions but his wealth and that of other billionaires depends on work done by  workers.

Valle said that he and other elected officials would stand with the fired workers until they got their jobs back and the company recognized their union.

After the UAW filed its second round of unfair labor practices charges against Tesla in October, Richard Ortriz, a union activist fired for talking to others about working conditions at the Tesla factory, explained why the fight for a union at Tesla is so important.

“I was fired for trying to better the lives of my co-workers,” said Ortiz. “I always felt this was a worthy fight. I knew it wouldn’t make me popular with management, and I knew there was risk, but people are getting hurt. People are being paid less than they’re worth. And people are being treated unfairly.” 

About his firing, Ortiz said, “I’ve worked in auto manufacturing my whole life. I do not believe–not for a second–that I was fired for cause.”

Mississippi Nissan workers to vote on union

Workers at the Nissan auto plant in Canton, Mississippi will soon have a chance to vote on whether they want to join a union.

An organizing committee of Nissan workers assisted by the United Autoworkers (UAW) recently filed papers with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold a union representation election at the factory.

The workers asked that the election take place during a two-day period that begins July 31 and ends August 1. The NLRB will make the final decision about when the election will take place.

“Nissan employees want fair wages for all workers, better benefits, and an end to unreasonable production quotas and unsafe conditions in Mississippi,” said Nina Dumas, a member of the organizing committee who has worked in the plant for five years. “The company doesn’t respect our rights. It’s time for a union in Canton.”

Despite Nissan’s best efforts to tamp down support for the union, the organizing committee’s efforts gained momentum after a large march and rally called the March on Mississippi took place four months ago.

Five thousand Nissan workers and their community supporters marched through the streets of Canton up to the gates of the factory in a strong showing of solidarity.

The Canton Nissan workers are predominately African American. They make some of Nissan’s most popular vehicles including the Altima, Frontier, Murano, and Titan.

Nissan opened the Canton factory in 2003 after the state of Mississippi awarded it $1.3 billion in tax exemptions and other incentives.

Nissan in turn was to provide local workers with good jobs and a respectful work environment.

But instead, members of organizing committee say that  Nissan has disrespected its workers.

“When we speak out to demand basic protections, Nissan threatens and harasses us,” said McRay Johnson, an organizing committee member who also has worked five years for Nissan. “Employees need and deserve representation in the workplace.”

Workers have also criticized Nissan for a lax safety culture at the plant.

The US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has issued multiple safety violation citations against Nissan.

OSHA’s latest citation said that Nissan failed to provide “a place of employment that was free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.”

“Every day, we literally are risking our lives at Nissan,” said Rosiland Essex, a 14-year  Nissan employee. “We deserve better.”

Many members of the local community also think that Nissan workers deserve better.

In fact some of them have come together to form Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFN).

MAFN is composed of prominent civil rights and religious leaders as well as students and others active in the Black Lives Matter movement.

At a July 10 media conference announcing that workers had requested a union election, Dr. Isiac Jackson, Jr., pastor of Canton’s Liberty Baptist Church, president of the General Missionary Baptist General Convention, and chair of MAFN, spoke about the importance of having a union.

Belonging to a union means that workers have certain guarantees, said Dr. Jackson

“If you have a union, you’re guaranteed that when you get hurt on the job, you will be taken care of. . . You’re guaranteed that “nobody can just walk up to you and take away your job that guarantees the support of your family. . . “You’re guaranteed to have hours that allow you to go home and enjoy your family and have a sustaining live,” said Jackson.

“You’re job’s not done till you pull the (voting booth) lever,” said Jackson urging workers to vote for the union in the coming election.

MAFN played a leading role in organizing the March on Mississippi.

One of the speakers at the march was Derrick Johnson, president of the Mississippi NAACP and a leader of MAFN.

“Workers rights are civil rights,” said Johnson at the march’s  rally. “It’s about the right of workers not to be exploited for cheap labor or for free labor.”

The anti-union drive by Nissan is an effort “to keep labor cheap by intimidating labor,” continued Johnson.

The strong show of solidarity at the March on Mississippi helped some Nissan workers gain confidence in the union drive even though Nissan has conducted an aggressive and perhaps illegal anti-union campaign.

According to the UAW, the NLRB found enough evidence to issue a complaint against Nissan charging it with illegal anti-union actions.

“The NLRB complaint alleges that Nissan unlawfully threatened to close the Canton plant if workers unionized and also threatened employees with termination,” states the UAW in a media release about the upcoming election.

As support for the union has grown, Nissan has stepped up its anti-union campaign. Anti-union media ads are running in the local media market, and the company continues to interfere with the workers’ right to belong to a union.

But union supporters at Nissan have a strong base of support inside and outside of the plant.

At the recent media conference announcing the union election, Bishop Thomas Jenkins said that the struggle for a union has been an uphill battle, but the workers have endured and are on the verge of victory.

“Workers have worked tirelessly to get to this moment,” said Jenkins. “Even though they have faced much intimidation (by Nissan).

Jenkins that workers have been forced to view movies intended to make them afraid to join a union and have been forced to attend small group meetings where they’re threatened for supporting the union.

“In spite all that, we’re going to win,” said Jenkins.

Large rally and march boost Nissan workers union drive

It looked like a river of red as pro-union workers and their supporters wearing red t-shirts marched to the Nissan factory in Canton, Mississippi to deliver a letter to management.

The letter demanded that Nissan stop harassing and intimidating African-American workers who are trying to organize a union at Nissan.

Before the march, workers rallied at an empty field near the auto plant to hear speakers express their support for the workers’ organizing drive.

The march and rally were organized by the Mississippi Alliance for Fairness at Nissan (MAFFAN), a coalition of civil right leaders, ministers, and labor rights activist, and supported by the United Autoworkers (UAW).

Nissan workers in Canton have been fighting for a union for years.

Danny Glover, a well-known actor and leading civil rights and labor rights activist, praised the workers for standing up to company threats and intimidation and said that they have support from all over the world.

Glover noted that in addition to people from all over the US expressing their support for the Nissan workers, union workers at Nissan plants in Europe, South America, and Japan came to Canton to show their solidarity.

Whatever Nissan does to undermine your strength,” said Glover at the rally. “We’re here to stand with you; we’re right behind you; we’ve got extra backbone to help you stand up for your rights.”

Pro-union workers say they need a union because Nissan does not care about their health their safety, or their dignity.

They point to the death of Nissan worker Derrick Whiting who passed out and died while working on a production line.

Workers at the scene report that as Whiting lay dying, Nissan continued to run the production line.

They point to a recent snow storm that caused hazardous road conditions that threatened the safety of drivers.

Despite the safety threat, Nissan ordered its workers to come to work or face losing their jobs.

They point to the large number of temporary workers at the plant who have worked at Nissan for years but are still classified as temporary workers.

These so-called temps are paid less than permanent workers and have few if any benefits.

They point to the lack of safety at the Nissan plant.

According to the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration, which investigated safety problems at the Canton plant, Nissan “did not furnish employment and a place of employment which was free from recognized hazards that were causing or likely to cause death or serious physical harm to employees.”

An estimated 80 percent of the production workers at the Canton plant are African-American, which makes the fight for worker rights at Canton a fight for civil rights.

Derrick Johnson, president of the NAACP said that shortly after Nissan opened the Canton plant in 2003, the offices of the NAACP began receiving complaints of mistreatment at the plant.

Johnson said that the NAACP got involved in supporting the Nissan workers because “we understand that an injustice to any of us is an injustice to all of us.”

“Workers rights are civil rights,” continued Johnson. “It’s about the right of workers not to be exploited for cheap labor or for free labor.”

The anti-union drive by Nissan labor is an effort “to keep labor cheap by intimidating labor,” said Johnson.

Cornell Brooks, president of the NAACP nationally, said that it gave him “great pleasure to stand in solidarity with workers who are simply trying to be recognized not just as workers but as people and citizens.”

The Nissan workers also heard that the Sierra Club, the nation’s largest environmental group, is supporting Nissan workers right to organize.

Aaron Mair, president of the Sierra Club whose father was an autoworker and a UAW member, told the workers that the fight for worker rights intersects with the right to a clean environment.

“You can’t have clean air, clean water, clean soil if you have a degraded labor force,” said Mair.

Mair said that the Nissan workers had the 2.8 million members of the Sierra Club on their side.

“If organized labor falls, we all fall,” said Mair.

The final speaker was US Senator Bernie Sanders.

“The eyes of the country and the world are on you,” Sanders told the Nissan workers. “You have shown incredible courage standing up for justice, standing up for a union.”

Sanders went on to say that unions are more important than ever.

“The middle-class is shrinking,” and the only way to reverse is trend and win decent wages for all workers is to unionize more workers, said Sanders.

Nissan reported $6 billion in profits and paid its CEO $9 million, but it continues to participate in a race to the bottom when it comes to paying its workers, continued Sanders. Nissan needs to share its wealth with workers who create it.The only way that they’re going to do that is if the workers have a union.

Sanders told Nissan that it should stop its intimidation campaign against union supporters and allow workers to vote on a union.

“Allow workers the freedom to vote their conscience,” said Sanders.

Teamsters confront XPO CEO for ignoring workers

As Bradley Jacobs CEO of XPO Logistics delivered his keynote speech to a conference on global logistics being held in Long Beach, California, he could faintly hear his name being called.

The faint voice grew louder, and as it turns out, it wasn’t a single voice; instead, it was the united voice of 100 Teamsters and their supporters, who had marched into the hotel lobby where the conference was being held chanting, “Bradley Jacobs you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side.”

Some of the members of the group chanting in the hotel lobby were XPO workers who voted to join the Teamsters in union representation elections. Even though XPO workers voted to unionize in a number of election overseen by the US National Labor Relations Board, Jacobs and XPO’s executive management refuse to meet and bargain with the new Teamster members.

The new union workers at XPO say that they unionized because of low pay and the lack of benefits.

“XPO’s Board of Directors just authorized a $110 million stock bonus plan for Bradley Jacobs. Meanwhile, my coworkers and I package and distribute parts for military helicopters to governments all over the world, yet at $12 an hour we can’t support our families without government assistance,” said Monica Abraham, an XPO warehouse worker in New Haven, Connecticut.

Instead of listening to the workers’ grievances, Jacobs ignored them and tried to block their attempts to unionize.

“When we raised concerns with management we were ignored, so we decided to organize,” said Ryan Janota, a freight driver at XPO in Aurora, Illinois. “Instead of respecting our rights, XPO spent a fortune on high-priced union-busting consultants to try and silence us. It didn’t work and we elected to join the Teamsters so Bradley Jacobs will have to listen!”

New XPO Teamster members were joined in the hotel lobby by shorthaul truck drivers at the ports of Long Beach and Los Angeles. They work for XPO, but, according to the workers, the company misclassifies them as independent contractors.

“Because XPO treats us like employees but pays us as ‘independent contractors’ and deducts their truck expenses from our paychecks, there are many weeks when we don’t even earn the minimum wage,” said Luis Meza, an XPO shorthaul driver. “This is abuse and that’s why my co-workers and I have filed lawsuits against XPO.”

The drivers’ suit alleges that XPO has committed  wage theft by misclassifying them as independent contractors.

XPO workers and other Teamsters were joined in the hotel lobby by members of Clergy & Laity United for Economic Justice, a faith-based social justice organization and the Los Alliance for a New Economy.

William Carr, a Catholic priest from Los Angeles spoke to Jacobs from the hotel lobby over a bullhorn.

“The Church teaches that worker rights are God-given rights,” said Carr. “These workers are here today demanding to speak to you Bradley Jacobs. You have repeatedly refused to meet with them. You must stop interfering with and begin respecting  the XPO workers’ federally protected right to organize a union. This is a God-given right.”

“What you’re doing is immoral,” said another clergy member who didn’t give his name. “Listen to your workers.”