California drayage truckers vote to unionize as carrier transitions away from independent contractors

Updated Jan 13, 2015

California’s Shippers Transport Express truckers will begin collective bargaining negotiations after 88 of its 111 drivers signed union authorization cards Jan. 9.

Shippers Transport Express, an SSA Marine subsidiary, recognized the Teamsters Union as the drivers’ bargaining agent after a third party verified that the majority of drivers had signed valid cards. The trucking and logistic company announced Nov. 24 it would transition its business model from independent contractor to employee on Jan. 1. Drivers who had leased the Carson-based company’s trucks had until Dec. 8 to apply for employee jobs.

STE General manager Kevin Baddeley said an employee-based business model is a “crucial step” toward becoming more efficient and reducing port congestion.

The company had remained neutral on unionization. However, its leadership anticipates greater operational efficiency and a more stable work force following “productive dialogue” with the Teamsters, Baddeley said.

STE agreed to not interfere in unionization, while the Teamsters agreed to not disparage the company or disrupt the workplace with strikes, picketing or work actions.