The NLRB’s Region 21 has issued a complaint alleging that managers and supervisors at Intermodal Bridge Transport (IBT) violated the NLRA by misclassifying employees and making unlawful threats and promises in violation of Section 8(a)(1). The news came merely hours after drivers who claim they are misclassified launched their third unfair labor practice strike against the company. According to the complaint, IBT managers and supervisors interrogated employees about their support for the Teamsters union, promised more work to employees if they stopped engaging in union activities, and threatened employees with job loss and other unspecified reprisals if they continued to support the union. Since at least March 24, 2015, IBT also has “misclassified its employee drivers as independent contractors, thereby inhibiting them from engaging in Section 7 activity and depriving them of the protections of the Act,” the complaint alleges. Does misclassification violate the NLRA? The case will test the Board’s theory that misclassification violates the NLRA. “The Complaint issued by the NLRB Regional Director represents a determination that misclassifying drivers in and of itself violates the NLRA,” Julie Gutman Dickinson, attorney for the Teamsters Port Division said in a release. “The complaint will lead to an historic trial where for the first time, a Judge will determine whether the act of misclassifying drivers in and of itself violates the National Labor Relations Act.” Gutman Dickinson noted that under the NLRA, employees, but not independent contractors, have the right to organize a union. Accordingly, when a company misclassifies drivers as independent contractors when they are actually employees--a common practice in port trucking—it’s “effectively telling workers that they cannot unionize, and thereby interfering, restraining, and coercing them in the exercise of their very basic rights to choose whether or not to form a union.” “This proves what we have always believed—that misclassification is not just wage theft; misclassification deliberately robs workers of their right under the law to unite for a better future,” said Fred Potter, Vice President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Director of the Teamsters Port Division. Strike. IBT drivers went on strike for the third time in the last year time to protest what they say is their misclassification as independent contractors, as well as misclassification-related harassment, favoritism, and retaliation. The drivers, who haul containers on and off the docks for IBT’s name-brand customers, including Michael Kors, Sony, Toyota, General Electric, and Target, are participants in a myriad of class action, mass action, and individual lawsuits for misclassification and wage theft. The Teamsters leveled another unfair labor practice charge against the IBT on April 20, 2016.
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