This story was updated to include comment from Werner.
Truck drivers at three New Jersey ECM Transport locations voted to unionize and join United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) Local 152.
The new members at the Cinnaminson, Hamilton and Piscataway terminals transport all types of cargo throughout the region as part of Pennsylvania-based ECM’s more than 2,500 combined tractors and trailers active in the mid-Atlantic region.
“The support of our union will enable these workers to get the respect on the job they deserve,” Local 152 President Brian String said. “We look forward to bargaining a first contract that recognizes their hard work and the role they have played in their company’s success.”
The union claims workers at the company approached the organization in June after requests for changes at the workplace were not fully addressed by management. Local 152 will now organize meetings with the drivers to draft contract proposals and schedule bargaining dates with the company.
Werner (CCJ Top 250, No. 13) in 2021 acquired an 80% equity ownership stake in Pennsylvania-based regional hauler ECM Transport Group for $142.4 million and retained an option to buy the remaining 20% of the company after five years. The remaining 20% ownership interest in ECM Transport Group was retained by Ed Meier, founder and president of the company.
Werner, in a statement provided to CCJ, said it was was "disappointed in the outcome of the vote by a small group of ECM professional drivers in favor of becoming part of a union with United Food and Commercial Workers Local 152 in New Jersey. We will comply in good faith with our obligations under the National Labor Relations Act. As a company, we will continue to reinforce and implement Werner’s strong culture throughout the enterprise while focusing on our commitment to delivering unparalleled service.”
The transportation industry's history this year with unionized labor, mostly through the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), has been mixed. IBT has secured new and more lucrative deals for its members at TFI (No. 4) subsidiary TForce Freight, ABF Freight (No. 18) and UPS. However, IBT's inflexibility and hard-line negotiations with Yellow were cited by the company as a key contributor to its August bankruptcy, and the now-defunct carrier is currently locked in a $137 million lawsuit against IBT.