Protest by XPO workers, union overshadows Bradley Jacobs’ keynote address at JOC conference
Touted as one of the rising stars in the logistics world following its 2003 acquisition spree of 25 companies, XPO Logistics may be facing more lawsuits challenging its business model of classifying its truck drivers as independent contractors than any other logistics company in America. XPO freight, port, and rail drivers, as well as XPO warehouse workers, from across the country showed up at the JOC Trans Pacific Maritime conference in Long Beach, California, accompanied by local members of the clergy and Teamsters members in an effort to get an audience with their CEO to address concerns and frustrations expressed by XPO employees across all divisions of the company.
Culminating in the purchases of Con-Way and Norbert Dentressangle, XPO has been saddled with approximately $5.3 billion in long-term debt while it could face millions in liability from legal issues, leaving many analysts to question XPO’s ability to integrate such a diverse set of companies and pay down this debt. While the company ended the year with over $200 million of free cash flow, it also continues to rack up new lawsuits over wage and hour issues. The most recent lawsuit was filed by a group of XPO customer sales representatives at their Lake Forest, Illinois, office alleging they were misclassified as being exempt from qualifying for overtime.
Meanwhile, Jacobs lashed out at the workers who came to protest by criticizing the Teamsters union as ‘out of control’ and claiming the company has a “cordial, respectful, courteous (labor relations)” with unions in Europe. His statement seems to fly in the face of recent controversies XPO has faced in Europe, including strikes by workers in France over job cuts, a 10-day hunger strike protesting the exploitation of misclassification by an XPO driver in Spain, and ongoing controversies over the working conditions of thousands of warehouse workers XPO manages for its client ASOS at a large facility in Barnsley in the United Kingdom.
Bradley Jacobs’ effort at painting a picture of a smooth ride seems to have hit several bumps in the road.