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Tue Apr 10, 2012, 10:12 PM

Truck drivers getting union vote after Toll Group intimidation campaign

Truck drivers getting union vote after Toll Group intimidation campaign

by Laura Clawson.

It's been a hard road to get to this point, but California-based truck drivers for Australian company Toll Group are getting a vote for union representation on Wednesday. Toll Group workers in Australia are unionized, but the company has waged an intimidation campaign against the 62 California drivers who will be voting on whether to join the Teamsters in an extremely rare union election in this industry sector. In March, Xiomara Perez, a union activist and one of a handful of women drivers, was fired for taking an emergency bathroom break. Less than two weeks later, Steven Chavez—also a union activist—was likewise fired on an obvious pretext:

Mr. Chavez used his Tuesday lunch break to renew a vital Department of Transportation certificate, a federally-mandated public safety requirement that must be current to hold a commercial drivers’ license and legally perform his job duties. Though he received verbal clearance after notifying his supervisor that morning he needed to renew his proof of medical and physical aptitude, that afternoon Toll’s management flimsily claimed he was being fired for making a persona(l) errand.

Australian and American elected officials, including Los Angeles Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, have voiced support for the workers. But thanks to the Toll Group's campaign of intimidation, Xiomara Perez and Steven Chavez won't be among the workers voting on whether to unionize, and their coworkers will go into the vote with their firings as a vivid reminder of how far the company will go to retaliate against union supporters.

Results of the union representation election will be announced Wednesday night.


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