Limited driver pool compels aggregate hauler to meet Teamsters’ terms

Sources: CP staff; National Labor Relations Board; Teamsters Local 137, Redding, Calif.

Under a settlement with the NLRB, Fontana, Calif.-based Commodity Trucking Acquisition LLC has entered a three-year collective bargaining agreement with Teamsters 137 and will cover $262,000 in back pay for drivers at its Yuba City, Calif., business, Dispatch Transportation, formerly Valley Aggregate Transport Inc.

The deal was reached shortly before an April hearing NLRB scheduled after examining union-alleged National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) violations, including repudiation/modification of contract plus refusal to recognize and bargain. They reportedly arose in 2010 after Teamsters 137 was certified as Valley Transport drivers’ bargaining representative, and ownership of the 100-plus vehicle fleet transitioned to Commodity Trucking/Dispatch Transportation. NLRA requires new owners who hire a majority of employees from a former owner’s payroll to recognize and bargain with the existing union. Teamsters 137 contended that Dispatch Transportation failed to hire certain longtime Valley Transport drivers to avoid bargaining obligation.

“The Employer made it clear that it was not interested in operating a unionized facility and hired only a few of the predecessor’s drivers. Thereafter, [it] refused to recognize and bargain with the Union,” notes the NLRB. “After an investigation of a charge filed by the Union, NLRB Region 20 concluded that the Employer would have hired many more of the predecessor’s drivers but for its desire to avoid a bargaining obligation, and that its subsequent refusal to recognize and bargain with the Union was therefore unlawful.”

After Region 20 staff issued a complaint, the parties entered into a Board settlement, which in addition to the collective bargaining agreement and back pay provisions, requires Commodity Trucking to restore a Valley Aggregate policy of recalling and dispatching drivers by seniority. According to Local 137, the three-year contract includes a $20/hour wage rate, overtime and $3/hour Western Conference of Teamsters Pension Plan contribution versus a prior percentage of load pay scheme netting drivers $11–$14/hour.