L.A. Driver Going the Extra Mile for One Toll

October 25, 2012

With a bag full of solidarity wristbands for his TWU brothers and sisters, his Teamster t-shirts packed in his luggage, and his passport, Karael Vallecillo, veteran port driver at Toll Group, boarded a plane for a 7,000 mile trip to Australia this past weekend ready to personally deliver the message to Toll’s managerial top brass and investors: live up your own standards of One Toll! His mission in Australia is already making news and Vallecillo is securing meetings with strong political leaders including Labor Senator Glenn Sterle and Greenway federal Labor MP Michelle Rowland.

And talk about a déjà-vu moment! Just about a year ago, Vallecillo’s co-worker Alberto Quiteno, made a surprise pilgrimage to Toll’s homeland to crash the AGM meeting, ruffling the feathers of outgoing CEO Paul Little.  On that trip, the TWU’s Toll delegates passed a solidarity motion in support of their L.A. co-workers, demanding equal working conditions for U.S. Toll drivers. One year later, Vallecillo is also sacrificing his vacation time, 7,000 miles away from his two children, to again bear the flag for his co-workers in the name of safety, and fair standards.

And who better to champion the true concept of “One Toll” on Toll’s own turf, than Karael Vallecillo, who was a pivotal figure in the litany of unfair labor practice charges filed against Toll with the top U.S. workplace watchdog agency, the NLRB, alleging management began to spy and harass him and his co-workers. On Tuesday, October 23rd, Vallecillo and more than 70 Australian and American Toll drivers met in Sydney to demand safer working conditions and better pay across all Toll sites. A demand they will put in person to Toll’s CEO at the 2012 AGM.

“It’s pathetic that about a year ago, we sent our co-worker Alberto Quiteno overseas to plead our case before Toll’s executives and CEO, and they’re still pretending we have safe working conditions and are simply asking for too much,” says Vallecillo. “We’re only asking that we be treated with the same working conditions and level of respect as other Toll employees. Despite us winning union representation, Toll is still having a tough time recognizing our rights, and insists on preserving a system of haves and have nots at Toll.”

“It’s my obligation to visit Toll and its investors in their homeland to let them know what’s really going on in their U.S. operations. When the executive Andrew Ethell flew from Australia to visit us, he said that if we ever became Teamsters, they would respect our rights and deal with us in good faith like the TWU. This has not been the case at all, and I’m here to let everybody know we want One Toll.”

Follow more posts throughout the week on Vallecillo’s journey for “One Toll.”

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