What Is One Toll? Passing the Hat to Give Your Co-Worker a Literal Second Shot at Life
October 3, 2012
Just how cheap is Toll Group’s “One Toll” talk? Ask Francisco Albarenga’s co-workers and his family.
Albarenga has been dependent on the compassionate aid of his fellow truck drivers while he slowly recovers from a brush with death. While his co-workers go the extra mile and contribute money right out of their own pockets, the $8 billion Toll continues to deny the newly unionized a fair contract with affordable health care.
The husband and father of three has endured high blood pressure for the latter half of the past decade essentially on prayer and luck. His health condition only worsened around the time he began working for the Australian global giant which borrowed from Walmart model of “offering” its underpaid workers a financially out-of-reach insurance plan at the cost roughly the equivalent of monthly payment for a brand new car!
Without proper treatment the inevitable struck Albarenga in early spring, right before the driver’s historic union election: he was urgently hospitalized after suffering massive kidney failure. For days he clung to his life. Yet despite being weak and fighting for his survival, Albarenga got out of his bed to go cast his vote that April 11th. A prescription of bed rest would do him no good—he was not going miss his dosage of making history at the ports.
After taking part in an unprecedented victory, Albarenga thought the situation would change and usher in a new era for himself, his co-workers and the entire port profession. His need for dialysis only magnified the importance of winning collective bargaining rights and Teamster representation.
The two-faced proclamation by Toll management to negotiate with the union in “good faith” has worsened Albarenga’s condition. If he couldn’t afford the insurance before his health hit rock bottom, it would not get any easier. But recognizing the urgency, Albarenga’s co-workers immediately stepped up the plate to ensure he received his vital dialysis treatments.
In a true display of “One Toll” in action, Albarenga’s co-workers began chipping in to pay for his medical insurance every month since July. For the first time in his life, Albarenga has been afforded health insurance due to the contributions of his union brothers and sisters who can barely afford health insurance of their own while Toll Group dithers and delays in contract negotiations, literally playing with people’s lives in the process. While grateful to the marvels of modern medicine, he attributes his second shot at life and newfound vitality not to a world-class doctor, but rather, to his co-workers.
“I feel an incredible sense of pride and emotion in knowing that my co-workers are lending a hand during a very difficult time in my life,” Albarenga said. “While Toll executives claim a vision of One Toll, they sure as hell don’t practice it. My co-workers are setting the real example of acting as one family. The time is now, and we won’t settle for second-tier treatment and will fight with all of our strength to get the fair contract we deserve!”
If there’s any set of workers who is more than prepared and equipped to keep mounting a fight for respect and a fair contract against the multi-billion dollar company, it’s these 63 L.A. drivers. Through thick and thin, and time and time again, Toll’s L.A. drivers have demonstrated with their tenacity and unity what it really means to work (and fight) as One Toll. One can only hope Toll’s Brian Kruger learns a thing or two from these port drivers’ incredible display of humanity.