Teamsters Local 120 continues picket lines at Finish Line Express
|Teamsters Local 120 members picketed January 19 at Finish Line Express.
From the Minneapolis Labor Review
January 27, 2017
MAPLE GROVE — Teamsters Local 120 continues to seek justice for 95 workers left without the pay they earned when Lakeville Motor Express abruptly closed November 21.
The union is maintaining daily picket lines at Finish Line Express, a new company operated by LME’s former management. FLE inherited LME clients and equipment, clearly evidenced by LME-branded semi-trailers in the FLE lot in Maple Grove.
In addition, Local 120 has been contacting FLE clients to inform them about what happened to the LME workers and to urge them to move their business to a different firm.
Jim Sperling, a former LME dock worker, said the union’s efforts are hurting FLE. “Their customer base is being impacted,” he said.
“Customers have quit using them… Business is way down,” said Chris Opdahl, a Local 120 steward who works for Holland and was one of several Local 120 members joining Sperling and others at the FLE picket line January 19.
Sperling had worked for LME for 13-1/2 years, he reported, and was asked to work overtime Friday, November 18 — which extended into the early morning hours of Saturday, November 19.
A sign went up at the LME gate Monday, November 21 announcing that the Roseville company “has permanently ceased all operations” (Labor Review, December 16, 2016).
“They never gave me no notice or warning,” Sperling said. “I heard through the grapevine.”
“They never paid us the last two weeks we worked,” he added. “I had 48 hours in each of those paychecks.” He estimated that LME owed him about $9,000 in pay, health and welfare benefits, and three week of accrued vacation.
The former LME workers have taken their case to the Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry, which is investigating what the union says is clear case of wage theft.
FLE denies any connection to Lake ville Motor Express or responsibility to the former LME workers.
FLE has a new parent company —Logistics Made Easy — the same initials as the former Lakeville Motor Express.
That’s a fiction, Local 120 members maintain.
Opdahl commented: “If LME says they have no money, why are all their assets here? Trucks, trailers, et cetera?”
Sperling noted that former LME supervisors, once the doors closed, started working at FLE.
The distinction between the two companies isn’t apparent, Local 120 members said, when FLE drivers show up at customers’ docks and announce they are there to pick up LME freight.
In addition, Local 120 has photos of shipping documents dated in January of this year which show FLE is picking up freight designated for Lakeville Motor Express.
Labor journalists confronted FLE management at a regional sales meeting January 6 in Roseville, seeking answers about FLE’s connection to LME and the workers who were stiffed. FLE officials declined any knowledge.
“It’s outrageous,” said Virgil Christoffersen, Teamsters Local 120 business agent who represented the former LME workers. “If it’s not illegal, it should be.”