Federal judge orders fired port truckers to be reinstated

By Greg Grisolano, Land Line staff writer | Thursday, October 16, 2014

A federal judge has ordered a California trucking company to reinstate port truck drivers who were fired for their union activities.

U.S. District Judge Philip S. Gutierrez issued the temporary injunction on Oct. 10 against Green Fleet Systems, ordering the company to put drivers Amilcar Cardona and Mateo Mares back to work, and to stop illegal labor activities within seven days or face a contempt of court charge.

According to court documents Green Fleet Systems provides drayage, warehousing and transloading services out of a facility in Carson, Calif. The company dispatches drivers to both the Port of Los Angeles and the Port of Long Beach.

The request for a temporary injunction was filed Sept. 22 in US. District Court’s Central District of California on behalf of the two men by the National Labor Relations Board. According to the petition, when the Teamsters began organizing Green Fleet’s truck drivers in 2012, the company allegedly responded with antiunion action, including threatening employees, and harassing and condoning the harassment of pro-union drivers. Some of the unfair labor practices against employees also include allegations of soliciting signatures on antiunion petitions, as well as promising increased benefits and improved conditions for employees who refrained from participating in union campaigns.

The NLRB also contends that the company began photographing truckers who distributed pro-union leaflets outside the facility and interrogating employees. The board also alleged that Mares and Cardona, who were lease drivers for the company, were retaliated against for asserting employee status and filing wage claims against Green Fleet with the California Department of Industrial Relations. The men were both fired on Jan. 8.

According to a report in The Long Beach Press-Telegram, in early 2013, the California Division of Labor Standards Enforcement came to the same conclusion on behalf of four Green Fleet drivers and ordered the company to pay $280,822 in back wages and penalties. Six other Green Fleet drivers, including Mares and Cardona, also filed claims with the state’s Division of Labor Standards Enforcement in 2013. The California Employment Development Department also determined that Cardona and Mateo are Green Fleet employees and are entitled to unemployment benefits.

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