One Toll? Or two faces?
October 2, 2012
The first in a series examining Toll’s tumultuous road to make good on its promises
Toll’s Brian Kruger has repeatedly pushed a vision of “One Toll” to shareholders and the media (complete with fancy-shmancy marketing materials). The business idea of a core set of unified values and standardized operating principles across the entire company is certainly needed. But does this CEO and his senior team really mean it? If you ask the Toll Group drivers in the United States (or Toll’s female employees in Australia) the answer is a resounding “hell no!”
Case in point on Toll’s two faces is senior management’s failure to live up to their own labor and safety standards, getting them in hot water with government authorities in the global corporation’s most important expansion market. First, the California Occupational Safety and Health Administration slapped the company with nearly $25,000 in several violations coded as “serious” related to dangerous storage of hazardous materials and equipment and failure to provide protective gear and training to workers at risk for injury. At its headquarters in New Jersey, the U.S. federal government had to step in and investigate Toll’s operations! The U.S. Department of Labor also had reason to investigate and cited Toll for a particularly sneaky employer ruse. The feds call it “misclassification,” a scam to cheat on taxes, deny workplace benefits and suppress the collective bargaining rights of its port and over-the-road drivers. And don’t get us started on the litany of charges Toll racked up at the nation’s top labor agency!
But if there’s a group of workers who have felt the two-tier system most acutely, it’s Toll’s Los Angeles port drivers, who are getting very antsy about being treated like Toll’s stepchild in the States. With “practice picket signs” in one hand, loud drums in the other, the 63 men and women have escalated their response to Toll’s two-faced management. After all, top brass issued an international press release after the worker’s triumph at the ballot box to declare their intention to “negotiate with the drivers’ union in good faith” but have failed to do so. [Then again, this is the same company who also proudly proclaimed its positive working relationship with unions in Australia, at the same time it was trying to bust their picket!]
The “one” thing that is clear is Toll drivers’ resolve to stick together as one voice. Time and time again, these vital supply chain workers have fought every injustice as a united front, with no signs of waning.
Because these drivers built their union and power as one, they know all too well they’re more than capable of beating this two-headed monster to achieve their American Dream.