USA: Labour union & truck drivers raise concerns about XPO Logistics' health & safety procedures & Toyota Tsusho America's alleged retaliation against a worker; incl. company responses
On 29 June 2020, intermodal truck drivers working for XPO Logistics held demonstrations in front of both the XPO Logistics yard and Toyota Tsusho Corporation in San Diego, CA to voice concerns about XPO's health and safety-related procedures during the pandemic and reductions on drivers' pay per load. Drivers delivered a petition to elected officials and the boards of XPO and Toyota with their demands, which include:
- "Immediately restore our pay to what it was before you reduced it in April.
- Start paying us for every hour of waiting time.
- Provide us with face masks, gloves, clean bathrooms with soap so that we can wash our hands at the yard, and with hand sanitizer so that we can wash our hands when we are out on the job.
- Provide hand sanitizer in the office and sanitize the computers every time someone uses them.
- Immediately stop denying us our full employee rights, including health insurance, unemployment insurance, state disability insurance, and paid sick days."
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters has also filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board against Toyota Tsusho Corporation for allegedly effectively firing an XPO driver who raised the alarm on drivers’ conditions amid the pandemic.
In addition to these concerns in San Diego, CA, workers in other states have also raised health and safety concerns related to XPO's COVID-19 response. These include a lack of PPE, gloves, and sanitizing wipes for drivers that are allegedly misclassified; paid sick leave for workers; no access to health insurance or free COVID-19 testing; and insufficient information around workplaces protections and safety measures to prevent the virus. Workers have also said that XPO is misclassifying drivers as independent contractors, meaning that these drivers do not have access to paid sick leave, health insurance or other basic social safety nets.
We invited XPO Logistics, Toyota Tsusho America, and Toyota Motor North America to respond. Their responses are below. In its response, XPO provided additional information about their health and safety protocols and said that it adheres to strict laws and regulations regarding the independent contractor model. Toyota Tsusho America said that it has not banned any employees, including those of XPO, due to union activity.
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters provided a rejoinder to the responses from these companies and XPO shared an additional reply.