After a 3-year fight, featuring frequent foot-dragging by the boss, UE drivers won a pay-out from Hallcon. Drivers that took trips through higher minimum wage areas were paid the difference between their wage and the minimum wage for those trips. In total, workers received over $80,000 in back pay in July, 2023. Going forward, the employer will audit and pay each trip at higher wages (if the drivers wage is lower) when they take trips through areas with higher minimum wages. This means a boost in paychecks for drivers who drive through states, counties, or cities with higher minimum wage laws.
UE Local 977 President Nandell Baines points out that Article 35.11 in the contract states, “If you’re going to a higher minimum wage area, you need to be paid that wage for the entire trip.”
“We found that drivers in Memphis, TN were going into Arkansas and Hallcon was not paying them the Arkansas minimum wage.”
When the grievance was originally filed in November 2020, the company’s first response was predictable: a refusal, accompanied by sorry excuses. “They told us it’s not feasible,” says Ray Silva, President of UE Local 1477. The company wanted to hide behind their own alleged technological shortcomings to avoid paying workers what they were owed.
With the threat of a pending arbitration hearing, Hallcon finally decided to abide by the contract. “That language of being paid for your whole trip through a higher minimum wage area had been a part of the contract for 8 years” said Clarence Hill, Chief Steward of UE Local 1177 based out of Chicago. “We were not going to let this company bypass our contract. We just kept demanding they follow it. Now they are.” he added.
A workplace without dedicated and effective stewards is a workplace where bosses know they can violate the contract. This is especially true for yards with high site manager turnover. Fortunately, in this case, a system of dedicated stewards kept the pressure on Hallcon for years to reach a resolution and payday for UE-represented drivers.
The keys to winning this campaign, according to Jessica Van Eman, UE Local 1477 Vice President. on the original grievance, were preparation, constant pressure, and education for members. Drivers that suspect their trip was not paid at a higher rate or if you have questions, please call a UE steward or officer.
Did you know?
The company has settled our Article 35.11 grievance, meaning if you’re taking a trip into or through an area with a higher minimum wage, you must be paid that wage for the entire trip. They have agreed to review our trips every two weeks, to ensure we’ve been paid these higher wages. Alert your steward if you think you’ve been cheated!