October 24, 2017

XPO pulls Teamsters representation in Connecticut at request of workers there

Majority of rank-and-file submit petition to company asking for union's removal.

By Mark B. Solomon

Transport and logistics company XPO Logistics Inc. said it has withdrawn recognition of the Teamsters union as the bargaining unit for 124 workers at XPO's North Haven, Conn., contract logistics operation after most of the employees told the company they no longer wanted Teamsters representation.

According to people familiar with the matter, 73 workers petitioned the company to request that Teamsters Local 443, based in New Haven, be removed as the workers' representative. As a majority of the rank-and-file signed the petition, the company was required by law to honor the workers' request, these people said.

In a statement, Greenwich, Conn.-based XPO acknowledged that it withdrew recognition of the Teamsters after receiving the petition. It declined further comment.

The Teamsters have a very different view of the issue. Bret Caldwell, a Teamsters spokesman, said in a statement that due to XPO's behavior following the certification vote, workers and the local were forced to file "numerous" charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which oversees the nation's labor-management relations, alleging the company had engaged in unfair labor practices. The allegations, which were filed before the petition was submitted to the company, accused XPO of bad-faith bargaining and of inappropriate involvement by management in the de-certification campaign, according to the statement. "We anticipate winning these charges and the company being required by the government to return to the table," Caldwell said.

Traditionally, members seeking to sever Teamsters representation vote to de-certify the union rather than submit a petition to their employer. The people who commented for this story said they did not know what may have prompted the rank-and-file's action. The Connecticut workers voted for Teamsters representation last October. However, a collective bargaining agreement was never reached.

This was the second unusual incident in less than a month involving Teamsters representation in the transportation and logistics sector. On Oct. 5, FedEx Freight, the less-than-truckload (LTL) unit of Memphis-based FedEx Corp., said the NLRB revoked the Teamsters' certification to bargain on behalf of drivers at the unit's Monmouth Junction, N.J., facility after Teamsters Local 701, which was chosen to represent the rank-and-file at that location, decided not to continue in that capacity.

XPO and FedEx Freight have been targeted by the Teamsters for representation as part of the union's strategy to broaden its organizing into the supply chain management field. XPO Chairman Brad Jacobs and FedEx Chairman Frederick W. Smith are adamantly opposed to Teamsters representation in the belief that the company's open and flexible work environment renders bargaining units irrelevant.

Editor's note: This story was updated Oct. 25 at 12:22 p.m.

About the Author

Mark B. Solomon
Executive Editor - News
Mark Solomon joined DC VELOCITY as senior editor in August 2008, and was promoted to his current position on January 1, 2015. He has spent more than 30 years in the transportation, logistics and supply chain management fields as a journalist and public relations professional. From 1989 to 1994, he worked in Washington as a reporter for the Journal of Commerce, covering the aviation and trucking industries, the Department of Transportation, Congress and the U.S. Supreme Court. Prior to that, he worked for Traffic World for seven years in a similar role. From 1994 to 2008, Mr. Solomon ran Media-Based Solutions, a public relations firm based in Atlanta. He graduated in 1978 with a B.A. in journalism from The American University in Washington, D.C.

More articles by Mark B. Solomon

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