By Bill Parry
Professional movers at the New York City franchise of Two Men and a Truck rallied Tuesday with Teamsters and other allies outside the company’s Long Island City office.
The workers called out against poverty wages, racially coded language and unfair promotions ahead of a union vote which was scheduled to be held Friday.
“We are professionals and should be able to support our families in this career,” said Two Men and a Truck driver Ramell Brown, a father of four. “We need a union with a voice at work so we can stand up for ourselves. Some guys are making little more than minimum wage and only being scheduled for one day a week. No one can make it in New York on that.”
The workers are seeking to join Teamsters Local 814, New York City’s professional movers union. They notified company management in April that a majority of workers had signed union authorization cards, but the company refused to recognize their union, prompting this week’s vote. The election will be overseen by the National Labor Relations Board.
“It’s unacceptable for a moving company to pay poverty wages in New York City,” Teamsters Local 814 President Jason Ide said. “Since announcing their intention to join the Teamsters, the workers have stood strong and I fully expect they will win their union.”
Workers want a raise, health care and retirement benefits, and a seniority-based scheduling system that maximizes employment. The movers are also hoping to win equal treatment through a union contract as most of the company’s workers are black while the managers are white. Workers of color have seen promotions go to white applicants and have heard racially offensive comments made by management, according to the protesters.
“All we want is equal and fair treatment,” Two Men and a Truck worker Milton Cunningham said.
When the company changed hands two years ago, workers said they saw business decline as hours on the schedule dwindled, leading to many employees facing serious financial hardship.
“When we started here, it seemed like the company was going to be a real success,” Two Men and a Truck worker Julio Casalinova said. “Hopefully, this can be a wake-up call and the new owner and the national brand can work with our new union to ensure that Two Men and a Truck thrives in New York.”
Two Men and a Truck is the largest franchised moving company in the United States with more than 410 locations in 41 states. Management at the franchise office at 47-00 Northern Blvd. in Long Island City could not be reached for comment.
Meanwhile, the Teamsters are vowing to support the workers in their quest for a union.
“When you join the Teamsters Union, you are no longer alone. Across the country, 1.4 million Teamsters are standing behind you,” Teamsters Joint Council 16 President George Miranda said. “We will have their backs and ensure they get a union contract that provides for their families and protects them in the workplace.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr