As Worker Action Heats Up, Toll is in Hot Water with the Feds, Again
July 17, 2012
Toll just can’t escape the bad press and consequences for its anti-worker behavior in the U.S. or Australia these days! Amidst a strike in Melbourne and on the heels of another scathing report on Pacifica Radio, a leading California public media outlet, the federal government now busted Toll Group for breaking the law at their New Jersey headquarters!
A Department of Labor’s investigation on Toll Group’s operations found the logistics employer committing the ultimate form of tax cheating and union busting– misclassifying both its port and over-the-road drivers. Toll is amongst the first company implicated in a multi-sector wide “crackdown” by the feds examined in this CBS Morning News special report on how the port trucking industry robs its workers and taxpayers. But are Toll’s latest violations a surprise? Hardly. This is, after all, the same company that immediately held mandatory anti-union meetings with its New Jersey drivers once the L.A. Toll drivers voted overwhelmingly to unionize. And in addition to being in trouble with the National Labor Relations Board, Toll is no stranger to federal investigations.
So it should come as no surprise Toll continues to single out and mistreat the most outspoken union-supporting drivers according to Pacifica Radio. Outspoken driver Jose Ortega Jr., prominently featured in the Australia’s ABC news’ primetime segment exposing Toll’s unjust working conditions and low pay, tells Pacifica that Toll continues to “discipline” for trivial and made-up reasons those that played a leading role in union recognition.
“We’re getting called to the office to any little thing,” states Ortega. If Toll walks from the bargaining table again as it did last month, Ortega and his co-workers will continue to endure harassment disguised as “discipline,” but these delay tactics backfire, as evident in Toll succumbing to driver pressure to return to the table.
L.A. Toll drivers aren’t the only ones taking bold action to sign a fair contract. Union employees at Cole’s engaged in a costly strike with Toll in Northern Melbourne, as well as port drivers across the United States are also monitoring the company’s behavior. Leonardo Mejia, a veteran L.A. port driver and misclassified worker, tells Pacifica the L.A. Toll driver victory has industry-wide ramifications. “The victory is a very good sign for us (misclassified drivers),” states Mejia, who works for Shippers Transport, the Seattle-based SSA Marine subsidiary damned by CBS Early Morning.
Since Toll Group is hardly the good union employer it claims to be in Australia, the company is obviously hell on bent on perpetuating American-brand union busting on both U.S. coasts. Highly paid legal counsel might help Toll evade NLRB punishment, but it won’t shield them from the razor teeth of the Department of Labor for long.