ROSEVILLE, Minn. — Management at longtime LTL carrier Lakeville Motor Express of Roseville, Minnesota, called drivers on the Sunday before Thanksgiving and told them they were out of a job, drivers said. And according to a letter sent from the company to the local union, there is no money to pay the drivers even what they have already earned, said Bill Wedebrand, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 120 in Blaine, Minnesota.
Meanwhile, Lakeville management is working at a nearby non-union company opened by Lakeville Vice President of Operations Travis Hoeschen a few months ago, and the closed company’s trailers and freight are being handled by the new company, Finish Line Express of New Brighton, Minnesota, Wedebrand said.
Calls to Lakeville Motor Express and Finish Line Express were not returned.
“There is no plan to pay [the drivers],” Wedebrand said. “[Lakeville management] sent me a letter that they were out of money.”
Ryan Lang, a Lakeville driver for 17 years, told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he didn’t receive his $3,010 paycheck due on the day before Thanksgiving. His boss called him at home the Sunday before and told him he no longer had a job. Lang later saw the same boss working at Finish Line Express, he said.
The Teamsters Union charged that, in order to circumvent a Minnesota law requiring employers of 100 or more people to notify the state and give workers 60 days’ notice of an impending closure, Lakeville management transferred people to a parent company, LME. Lakeville employed 75 drivers, according to the latest Department of Transportation figures.
“They slowly moved their clerical people and that got them down under 100,” Wedebrand said. ”Managers at LME are the exact same people. They moved office staff to LME, [but] they work in the same building.”
Hoeschen started Finish Line Express in May, Wedebrand said. The Minnesota Secretary of State’s office reported that the original filing for Finish Line Express LLC occurred May 5, 2016, with a registered agent listed as Jennifer Hoeschen. Jennifer Hoeschen is Travis Hoeschen’s wife, Wedebrand said.
A call to a number listed for Finish Line Express was answered by a recorded message from “Jen Hoeschen.” A message left was not returned.
Calls to Lakeville Motor Express CEO Kevin Deming and another number for Finish Line Express went unanswered. Messages left at both numbers were not returned.
The union will continue to oppose the move, Wedebrand said.
“We’re not going to give up the fight,” he said. “We’re going to be outside of FLE every single day that they are open.”
The Teamsters are also exploring legal options, he said.
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