After NFI/California Cartage packed up its bags and left the Port of Los Angeles, it left behind a rather large space of land. Recently, the port announced that logistics company Toll Group Forwarding has been chosen to potentially fill that void.
Toll Group will negotiate with the port to lease the 85-acre site previously held by NFI Industries. The site includes 600,000 square feet of warehouse space and open space for trucking operations. California Cartage and NFI had occupied the space for more than half a century before it announced its departure after losing a multimillion dollar misclassification wage suit.
According to a statement from Los Angeles City Councilman Joe Buscaino, the contract will include a worker retention clause to ensure that a number of former NFI employees will have the first opportunity to be rehired.
“It was unacceptable that a company who routinely misclassified employees, withheld wages and maintained an unsafe work environment was allowed to operate on city-owned property for so long,” Buscaino said. “I am hopeful that under this new ownership, workers on this site will be classified properly, paid their wages, and work in safe conditions. Los Angeles is sending a message that our city will not tolerate companies who take advantage of and abuse their workers.”
In January, California Cartage was ordered to pay nearly $6 million to 24 port truck drivers for back wages in a misclassification suit. Days later, the company announced it will shut down its warehouse at the L.A. port.
Parent company NFI blamed the Teamsters for being unable to renew its lease. At the time, the warehouse was scheduled to close in July.
Piling onto its woes, NFI was ordered to pay 10 port drivers a total of $1.2 million for a similar misclassification suit in April.
“NFI/California Cartage has a history of abusing and misclassifying its employees to increase profits and drive down prices for customers like Lowe’s, Best Buy, T.J. Maxx and Rio Tinto Mines,” Eric Tate, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 848, said in a statement. “As the largest logistics company at the Ports of LA/Long Beach, this has negatively impacted NFI’s law-abiding competitors, a key issue raised by LA City Attorney Mike Feuer in his ongoing lawsuit against three NFI trucking companies for unfair business practices.”
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