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Citing a anemic bales market, acumen aggregation Universal Acumen Holdings (NASDAQ: ULH) has laid off up to 70 agent anchorage and intermodal drivers at three subsidiaries – Universal Intermodal Services, Universal Truckload Services and Roadrunner Intermodal Services.
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The layoffs, which occurred aftermost week, accept impacted advisers alive at the Ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach. They took abode beneath than one ages afterwards 28 agent drivers at Universal Intermodal voted to accompany Long Beach-based Teamsters Local 848.
All of those drivers accept now been laid off.
Several drivers accept claimed they were told they could appear aback to assignment as absolute contractors if they purchased their own trucks. Desmond Gibson, one of the above Roadrunner drivers, told FreightWaves he was declared into the Fontana, California, ability on Dec. 18 forth with at atomic bristles added drivers. The operations administrator handed the drivers a letter and told them that “he was sorry,” Gibson said.
“He said, ‘If you anytime got your own truck, we’d be added than animated to assignment with you. But with the abridgement of freight, we absitively to cut out the aggregation driver,'” Gibson said.
According to a archetype of the letter acquired by FreightWaves, Roadrunner Intermodal told drivers that “soft bales altitude in 2019 accept apprenticed that we appraise our accepted staffing levels” branch into 2020. “As a result, with abundant consideration, we affliction to acquaint you that Roadrunner Intermodal Services is abbreviation all aggregation disciplinarian positions able Friday, Dec. 20, 2019.”
Tim Phillips, Universal’s controlling carnality admiral and arch operating administrator of transportation, said in an email to FreightWaves that “given the activating attributes of the busline industry, our companies abide to accomplish cardinal business decisions – some growth-related and some efficiency-related – as allotment of exchange fluctuations.”
He said that as a result, “we accept additionally automated some of our operations.”
Roadrunner Intermodal drivers accustomed a letter on Dec. 18 admonition them of layoffs at the Fontana and Wilmington, California facilities.
Intermodal was a ablaze atom in Universal’s contrarily beat third-quarter balance results, accretion $39 actor to $93.9 actor in the additional quarter, up from $54.9 actor during the aforementioned aeon aftermost year. The aggregation accustomed its contempo intermodal accretion bacchanalia for the uptick.
Shortly afore the layoffs, according to Gibson, Roadrunner asked advisers to ample out new W-2 forms and paperwork advertisement banking beneficiaries. The forms were affiliated to Universal’s November accretion of Roadrunner Intermodal.
In a abstracted letter to drivers additionally acquired by FreightWaves, Jose Lugo, accepted administrator for Universal Intermodal Services’ Rancho Domingo, California, operation, wrote that the charter on the company’s Compton terminal asleep and it had not begin a “suitable terminal” area it could relocate.
Combined with a anemic truckload and intermodal market, the letter stated, Universal has absitively to “make the aching accommodation to abandon operations in Compton.”
Some of the Universal Intermodal drivers said the layoffs were in backfire for abutting the Teamsters.
Saul Zuniga, an agent disciplinarian at Universal Intermodal and new affiliate of Local 848, said in a statement, “They let us go appropriate afterwards we voted to anatomy our union. Now we’re not activity to accept abundant money for the rent, let abandoned Christmas presents for our children. This is abundantly sad for us.”
The Universal layoffs appear amidst a acrimonious agitation in the trucking industry over California’s Assembly Bill 5, which makes it actionable to misclassify California’s barter drivers as absolute contractors.
Slated to booty aftereffect in January, AB5 is the ambition of lawsuits from the California Trucking Affiliation and the Western States Trucking Associations. Both affirmation the legislation will advance to the accident of bags of jobs in an industry that depends heavily on absolute contractors, additionally accepted as owner-operators.
Community and activity groups abutment the bill on the area that it will anticipate corruption of drivers who accept been misclassified as contractors, depriving them of bloom insurance, meal and blow break and added allowances that appear with agent status.
Roadrunner is one of several Universal Acumen subsidiaries with a history of allegedly misclassifying barter drivers. Earlier this year, a California federal cloister accustomed a $9.25 actor adjustment amidst Roadrunner and 896 barter drivers claiming violations of accompaniment allowance and hour laws due to their declared misclassification by the aggregation as absolute contractors.
In a columnist account appear by the Teamsters on Dec. 23, California Accompaniment Sen. Maria Elena Durazo, a co-author of AB5, said “the era of misclassifying workers as absolute contractors to contrivance taxes and abduct workers’ accomplishment has appear to a abutting in California,” and that “Universal’s arrant accomplishments that additionally bankrupt workers of their appropriate to adapt will not be tolerated.”
Her appointment intends to accessible “an actual investigation” into the layoffs, Durazo said.
Image Sourced from Pixabay
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