Judge rules Swift unlawfully fired two drayage drivers

| 12/30/2009

A judicial board has ruled in favor of two port drivers who were fired by Swift Transportation after they participated in union activities.

The National Labor Relations Board held an administrative law hearing in August in Los Angeles on behalf of drivers Anthony Herron, Bismark Sanchez, Marco Diaz and Salvador Gonzalez.

In a written ruling, Judge Lana Parke said Diaz and Gonzalez were unlawfully fired due to their involvement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters. The motor carrier had legal justification for firing Herron and Sanchez, the judge ruled.

Swift attorneys had argued the two had been fired for not disclosing misdemeanor crimes when they were hired.

The judge also ruled that the company violated the law by “interrogating employees about their protected concerted and/or union activities, by implicitly threatening employees with termination if they engaged in protected activity or supported the union, by threatening employees with plant closure and by informing employees of the futility of supporting the union.”

According to court documents, Gonzalez’s open disagreement with Swift CEO Jerry Moyes during a February 2009 meeting at the Swift yard and during a later teleconference with drivers was noted by a company security employee.

Moyes reportedly told employees that the company was “in a bad place” due to the recession and the Wilmington, CA, facility was losing money. According to court documents, Moyes also said he “was not telling the drivers that the union was good or bad, but trucking companies that were union were not doing well because the union pension plan was expensive with so many drawing out of it and so few paying into it,” naming UPS, Yellow and Consolidated as examples.

According to court documents, Swift managers complained that they were intimidated during the Teamsters campaign and had tires slashed on their personal vehicles parked at work.

The full decision is available here.

– By Charlie Morasch, staff writer