EB-Risk Alert: Strike hits port trucking company

The Southern California port trucking industry was disrupted last week when drivers went on strike. EB-5 stakeholders should pay heed because of the striking similarities between the affected company and American Logistics International.

Last week, 30 drivers walked off the job at Green Fleet Systems, a port trucking company in Carson, CA. Dozens of trucks sat idle as drivers engaged in a 24-hour strike, picketing Green Fleet’s truck yard in response to recent charges that the company had violated federal labor law.

The disruption carried far beyond, as picket lines were put up at Green Fleet’s customers as drivers made deliveries, even as far as distribution centers 70 miles away. Several major customers refused to service Green Fleet trucks, presumably resulting in financial loss for the company.

Last week’s unfortunate situation is a concrete example of potential impact that a prolonged labor dispute can have on a company, which we have previously reported on.

EB-5 stakeholders should take notice because the conditions that led to the strike at Green Fleet are almost identical to those at American Logistics:

  • Like Green Fleet, American Logistics provides integrated logistics services, including warehousing, third-party logistics and trucking services to the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. Both companies are located in Carson, CA, a city that recently passed a resolution in support of truck drivers. The resolution named only two companies: Green Fleet Systems and American Logistics International. The Carson mayor and two Carson city councilmembers walked the picket line at Green Fleet in support of striking employees.
  • While the LA/Long Beach port trucking market is composed of about a thousand companies, Green Fleet and American Logistics are the only two companies in the entire sector where drivers have publicly announced their intent to organize their union with the Teamsters. Drivers at both companies publicly launched their efforts in January, 2013. Similarly, drivers at both companies have made numerous pleas for collaboration, but have been rebuffed by company management. Both groups of drivers have also sought support from community and political leaders.
  • Both companies are now embroiled in escalating labor disputes. Like Green Fleet, American Logistics management has hired an outside “labor consultant” to oppose its employees’ organizing efforts, rather than remain neutral.  In our experience, such “labor consultants” serve to highlight discord between employees and management, rather than foster collaboration.
  • Similar to Green Fleet, American Logistics has been charged with violating federal labor law.  We recently reported on the charges filed against American Logistics. The National Labor Relations Board complaint filed against Green Fleet is similar, charging the company with “interfering with, restraining, and coercing employees in the exercise of rights guaranteed in Section 7 of the [National Labor Relations] Act and in violation of Section 8(a)(1) of the Act.” This unfair labor practice complaint was the basis of the Green Fleet drivers’ strike.

There has been much in the headlines recently about low-wage workers taking action, most recently displayed by the drivers at Green Fleet Systems and workers at fast food restaurants and Walmart stores around the US going on strike. Strikes are an unfortunate result when disputes are not resolved at the workplace. EB-5 stakeholders should stay vigilant.

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