As investors gather online and in Nashville for Universal Logistics Holdings’ (ULH) 2021 shareholder meeting Thursday, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Port Division is sounding the alarm on the company’s longtime mistreatment of workers and illegal misclassification scheme that reduces drivers’ pay and deprives them of basic benefits. ULH is one of the largest trucking companies operating out of the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach.
ULH has recently come under fire — and legal scrutiny — amid a raft of health complaints, worker actions and federal inquiries.
“Universal’s investors should understand that the company’s profits are built off of lawbreaking and exploitation. It is absolutely shameful that over the past year, even during a pandemic that devastated Southern California’s Latino communities, Universal continued yearslong practices of mistreating and misclassifying its drivers,” said Ron Herrera, Teamsters Port Division Director. “From the ports to city halls to Sacramento, the Teamsters are building momentum in our fight to hold this corporation accountable and win justice for all port truck drivers and their families. We won’t back down until we win.”
- In March, drivers at one ULH subsidiary, Container Connection, filed a Cal/OSHA complaint alleging a lack of PPE, social distancing and sanitation of shared equipment, with several drivers testing positive for COVID-19.
- Weeks later, the NLRB issued a complaint against numerous other ULH subsidiaries laying out over 20 egregious violations of federal labor law. Notably, the complaint alleges that one ULH subsidiary, Universal Intermodal Services, fired workers who voted to join a union and transferred their work to drivers illegally classified as independent contractors at ULH subsidiary Southern Counties Express.
- Earlier this month, illegally fired drivers for ULH/Universal Intermodal Services and drivers for ULH/Southern Counties Express went on strike to demand ULH respect their union and bargain for a fair contract. During the drivers’ strike, dockworkers with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union walked off the job in solidarity with the striking drivers and shut down a major terminal at the Port of Los Angeles.
“As a driver for Universal Intermodal Services, I worked hard, day after day, to make ends meet and provide for my family. But Universal fired me days before Christmas just because I chose to use my basic right to organize for better wages and working conditions,” said port truck driver Richard Tatge. “My co-workers and I refused to be silenced. That’s why we went on strike and then shut down a terminal at the Port of LA with our ILWU brothers and sisters. Now we are taking the fight to the ULH boardroom.”
“ILWU stands proudly in solidarity with our Port Division Teamsters and we will continue to raise our voice in support of all workers who keep our ports union strong and safe, especially the port truck drivers who work alongside us daily,” said Ramon Ponce de Leon, President of ILWU Local 13.
In conjunction with ULH’s shareholders meeting this year, the Teamsters Port Division launched digital ads aimed at reminding the company’s executives that drivers are committed to speaking out about mistreatment and misclassification.