Some companies do everything they can to quell workers’ thoughts about unionizing. From training videos that almost seem like propaganda, to outright threats it may scare some people. As the L.A. Times reports, one L.A.-based trucking company terminated its employees after their unionization. And it was illegal.
Universal Intermodal, an affiliate of Universal Logistics Holdings is in charge of multiple companies in the area that handles goods coming through the ports of L.A. and Long Beach. In late 2019, a worker out of their Fontana facility got in touch with the Teamsters and started working on unionizing his coworkers due to parts of the job that started to worry him.
At first, he had few complaints with the job, Tatge said in an interview in March. But the longer he worked the more he worried about the precariousness of his position. Grievances piled up. Tatge worked 10- to 14-hour days, the cost of medical insurance ate up a huge chunk of his paycheck and the company failed to cover basic truck maintenance. Tatge said turnover among supervisors was high, making it difficult for them to follow through and fix issues raised by drivers.
Eventually, workers voted to unionize on December 19th, 2019. Just two days later, the company shuttered its facility in Compton, a move that the company’s counsel says wasn’t about the union, it was for “legitimate business reasons.”
The judge’s ruling found that the actions of the company after the unionization of the workers were unlawful. Everything that was done by the company seemed to punish workers for what they had done. The company even went so far as to interrogate an employee over their union plans.
Administrative Law Judge Michael A. Rosas found in his ruling that the company was in violation of federal labor law on multiple counts. He said that the company unlawfully interrogated and fired two employees leading union efforts and that once workers at the facility unionized, it slashed their hours, closed the Compton facility where many of them worked, and laid off the unionized workers in order to punish them for organizing.
The company was attempting to purge unionized employees and hire new ones who weren’t unionized. In total, 70 people were laid off from two facilities.
Now the company has to not only hire back those fired, but they have to pay them back pay plus interest and negotiate with the union-backed employees for better wages and benefits.
Rosas’ ruling requires that Universal Logistics recognize the union within two weeks as the bargaining representative of all full-time and regular part-time port drivers working or dispatched out of the company facility in Compton. Universal Logistics is also required to “bargain in good faith with the union regarding wages, hours and working conditions, and if an agreement is reached with the union, sign a document containing that agreement.”