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Latest News - October 2011

October 13, 2011
WORKPLACE: Warehouse operators face labor law heat
Source: The Press Enterprise

A state agency is continuing its investigation of Schneider Logistics’ Mira Loma distribution center to determine whether its operators knowingly withheld wages from any of its 200 employees, a spokesman said Thursday.

Investigators from the state Department of Industrial Relations Wednesday inspected two distribution buildings run by Schneider Logistics, one of the country’s largest shipping and warehousing firms. The state issued a $499,000 fine against Impact Logistics, the employer of record for some of the facilities’ workers, for failing to provide employees with itemized wage statements.

Another company that officially employs some workers at the Schneider warehouse, Premier Warehousing Ventures, was cited for failing to maintain time records, according to a statement issued Wednesday by the state agency. The company was not fined.

Dean Fryer, a spokesman for the Department of Industrial Relations, said state investigators were told by workers they were underpaid by their employers, and the state will try to find out if that’s true. Workers could receive back pay if the charges are substantiated.

“The process could take a few weeks,” Fryer said in an interview. “We will request payroll records going back three years, and that’s how we can determine whether there were underpayments.”

Companies are required to produce work time records on demand, and that is why the citations against the two firms were issued Wednesday, Fryer said.

Schneider Logistics, which is based in Green Bay, Wis., and Memphis, Tenn.-based Impact Logistics both issued emailed statements saying that they are cooperating with the investigation.

California Labor Commissioner Julie Su said in an interview that the Schneider facility on South Hamner Avenue is actually two buildings, and that most of the goods that move through the distribution center go to area Wal-Mart stores. The two subcontractors did stocking, lifting and other warehouse work.

Su said the state believes workers were often told to come to work at 5 a.m. and would wait for two hours before trucks arrived to be unloaded. But she said her agency’s been told they were not paid for those two hours, which would be a violation of state law, Su said.

Schneider Logistics spokesperson Erin Elliott said in an emailed statement that the company has cooperated with the state and pointed out that the labor commissioner’s investigation focused on the two vendors and not Schneider.

“We expect the agencies we work with to comply with all California and federal labor laws,” the statement said. “We believe that we are in full compliance with applicable laws and regulations. We expect our vendors to fulfill their responsibilities as well.”

Brett A. Veach, executive vice president and COO of Impact Logistics, said in an email they would cooperate with the investigation and “take any and all corrective measures” that are necessary.

A Premier Warehousing representative did not return a call seeking comment.

Schneider Logistics also has a deal with Wal-Mart to stock stores in the Chicago area. Earlier this year, Schneider and a vendor, a temporary employment agency that recruited workers for this location, were sued by eight people who claim they were not paid for all the hours they worked.

A Schneider Logistics executive was added to Riverside County’s Workforce Investment Board, a group of public- and private-sector leaders who advise elected officials on how to spend job development money and how to grow new jobs. Supervisor John Tavaglione recommended the appointment.

A representative from Tavaglione’s office did not return several calls seeking comment.



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