Toll Workers of the World, Unite!

March 5, 2012

When Toll’s CEO Brian Kruger and the other corporate suits woke up to read the Sunday Business pages, this is the headline they were greeted with:

“Toll’s US Battle May Go Global”

Ouch. (And a well-earned one, to boot.)

The Associated Press story plastered across Australian media outlets with news of a high-level delegation from the Transport Workers Union. Euan Scott-Bell, Mark Trevillian , and Jim McWilliams – all “truckies” for Toll in Sydney who are on their union’s national negotiating committee – used their vacation time to make the trek to Los Angeles, put in some real organizing hours on the ground, and do whatever it takes to ensure their U.S. workmates get a fair shake.

They are joined by TWU Senior Official Michael Aird, and the union’s highest officer, National Secretary Tony Sheldon, is on his way as well.

Armed with the message, “Your Fight is Our Fight,” Mr. Aird told the AP:

“We have made it clear to Toll if they don’t reconsider their approach then it will have a significant impact on their relationship with the TWU in Australia and it will also quite potentially have a significant impact on their attempt to grow globally.”

That’s a real zinger after the bad news these anti-union suits had to deliver shareholders late last month – a 4% profit slip.

“Toll needs to be very careful about the approach they are taking…If they want to keep beating up on workers, there is going to be a global response to these attacks.”

That global response, Mr. Aird added, would be to get the International Transport Federation involved – that’s the strength and might over 4.5 million other transportation and maritime union workers around the world. Already, he and a top-level Teamster official met with the Australian Ambassador to the U.S., Mr. Kim Beazley to address concerns with the company’s behavior in the States.

The delegation got off to a great start. Also on Sunday, a huge reception between Toll’s LA drivers, their families, the delegation, other area port drivers, clergy, community coalition partners, Teamster members and elected leadership kicked things off. Over tacos and local fare in a crowded union hall, worker after worker took to the microphone, in English, Spanish, and Aussie brogue vowing to see this fight through – union recognition, to first contract, to all port workers achieving dignity and respect on the job.

Toll officials disingenuously continue to claim it has no issue with the LA workers voting to form a union. However, as we’ve reported before, the company is exerting a ton of time, money, and resources to manipulate labor laws and block a democratic union election in the workplace. Executives are even flying in from Melbourne and US headquarters to hold forced anti-union meetings that have become a weekly routine despite the employees voicing their discomfort with intimidating tactics so destructive to workplace morale and productivity. Not what Toll’s customers or shareholders want to hear about after a profit drop, is it? Surely more headlines will follow as a result. And get ready for more video and dispatches from the week’s jam-packed agenda for justice!

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