Green Fleet Systems of Rancho Dominguez, a trucking company serving the ports of Los Angeles and Long Beach, has filed for bankruptcy on the heels of legal battles with its drivers and the Teamsters union.

Green Fleet filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection early last month, saying it owes “unknown amounts” of taxes and penalties to the city of Carson, IRS, California Employment Development Department and other government entities.

The filing also mentions six cases of litigation with employees pending with the California’s Labor Commissioner’s Office.

In October, a federal district court judge ordered Green Fleet to reinstate two truck drivers, both independent contractors, that the company had fired. The National Labor Relations Board had filed a request asking the two drivers be taken back.

The two drivers had previously filed wage claims against Green Fleet, arguing they were employees but had been misclassified as independent contractors. In its order, the court agreed with the labor board that the company fired the drivers because they refused to drop their wage claims. The court also said it believed the labor board would find the two were employees, not independent contractors.

The NLRB filed complaints against Green Fleet, alleging it was harassing its truck drivers because of their attempts to join the Teamsters.

Green Fleet employs about 100 employee drivers and another 35 drivers it says are independent contractors. In its bankruptcy filing, the company reported income of $17.6 million last year.

Labor-backed advocacy group Los Angeles Alliance for a New Economy estimated in a May report that Green Fleet could potentially have to pay $943,000 if all six employees with pending wage claims were awarded back pay. It also estimated that should the firm’s 35 independent contractors also file for back wages, Green Fleet could owe $4.8 million.

Attorneys for Green Fleet did not return calls for comment.

Extra Hour

Local port trucking trade group Harbor Trucking Association wants port terminal gates that are now closed to truckers for an hour each evening to be opened all the time as a way to reduce ongoing congestion.

Even one extra hour of activity every day will go a long way toward easing gridlock at the ports, said Weston LaBar, the association’s executive director. On weekdays, when gates close at 5 p.m., trucks form a huge, idling bottleneck on harbor-area roads as they wait for gates to reopen at 6.

Of course, there’s another reason trucks are queuing at that hour: A port program called PierPass charges extra fees for cargo picked up or dropped off during peak daytime hours. There are no extra fees for cargo moved after 6.

John Cushing, president of PierPass Inc., an entity set up by port terminal operators to run the program, said the drivers are likely waiting at the gates for the free night shift to start.

“If you’re queued up waiting at 6 p.m., it’s because you don’t want to pay the fee,” Cushing said. “They don’t have to arrive at 5 p.m.; they can choose to arrive at 6 p.m.”

What’s more, Cushing said dockworkers are changing shifts between 5 and 6 p.m., meaning even if gates were kept open, there would be no workers available to load or unload trucks.

New Digs

Local freight-forwarder Suntrans International Inc. is moving about a mile north of its current home in unincorporated Rosewood, near Carson.

Culver City estate brokerage Klabin Co./Corfac International said Suntrans, now at 222 Redondo Beach Blvd., purchased a 22,322-square-foot industrial building at 13226 Broadway for $2.8 million. After making improvements, the company will move to the new location by the end of the year, according to the real estate firm. Klabin brokered the deal jointly with Phoenix’s Voit Real Estate Services Inc. on behalf of the seller, Oksan Investment of Fullerton. … Logistics business O’Neill Logistics of La Mirada will relocate to a bigger space in Santa Fe Springs after signing a lease for 288,000 square feet of industrial space in Hathaway Industrial Park at 11811-11831 E. Florence Ave., according to real estate brokerage Jones Lang LaSalle, which represented landlord Westcore Properties of San Diego.

Port Hires

The Port of Long Beach has hired Michael Christensen as senior executive for supply chain optimization and Glenn Farren as director of tenant services and operations, a new position. Christensen was formerly deputy executive director at the neighboring Port of Los Angeles; Farren had been a general manager for shipping company Hapag-Lloyd (America) Inc.

Staff reporter Carol Lawrence can be reached at clawrence@labusinessjournal.com or (323) 549-5225, ext. 237.

For reprint and licensing requests for this article, CLICK HERE.