Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Big trouble for Teamster-hating union buster in Oakland?

Bill Aboudi, a greedy California hustler who doesn't care about the port truckers he employs, could be in very hot water.  Evidence shows he broke labor and environmental laws, and he owes the City of Oakland $235,000 in back rent.

Aboudi hates unions and he especially hates the Teamsters. He has threatened to blow up Teamster leaders. He has commented on news items about "pathatic" Teamster organizers. He has posted tweets calling Teamsters "union-busters." Worst of all, he led the fight to keep port drivers in poverty.

Aboudi and the Teamsters tangled several years ago. California Teamsters and environmental groups urged the Port of Oakland to contract with large, unionized trucking companies instead of small independent operators who misclassify drivers. That way, the larger companies would have the clout to stop the shippers from forcing trucks to idle for hours at the port. Aboudi led the smaller truckers in a successful fight against the plan.

Revenge is a meal best eaten cold, however. East Bay Express reports he owes 73 employees nearly $1 million in back wages:
In a tentative ruling issued last fall, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman concluded that there was "substantial and persuasive evidence" that Aboudi's employees "were routinely and consistently precluded from taking meal periods and rest breaks." 
The judge also concluded that there was "persuasive" evidence that Aboudi "consistently failed to pay for all hours worked." According to calculations by the workers' attorneys — based on a formula that the judge ordered them to use — Aboudi owes the employees $964,557, along with more than $400,000 in court costs and attorney fees.
That's not all. Aboudi has a truck parking operation that sent polluted stormwater into San Francisco Bay for four years. A lawsuit joined by the Teamsters alleges he allowed oil, grease, rinse water, soap residue, engine coolant, solvents, volatile organic compounds and heavy metals associated with vehicle fluids to flow into the Bay.

On top of that, Aboudi rents the land for his truck-parking operation from the City of Oakland. He owes the city $236,489 in back rent, utilities, and late fees. He violated a city ordinance against living on city property by allowing a former employee to live in his tractor-trailer on the parking facility. (In other words, Aboudi's former employee was homeless, thanks no doubt to Aboudi's poverty wages.) And 52 of his 73 tenants had no business licenses and paid no taxes to the city.

Aboudi claims drivers choose to become independent contractors because they love freedom. That's not what the port drivers say. According to the Teamsters Port Driver Organizing Resolution,
...port drivers, working in an extremely dangerous industry, are forced to toil in sweatshop working conditions for low wages and are denied benefits that most workers receive such as workers’ compensation, disability, Social Security, minimum wage, health and safety law protections.