October 20, 2016 2:00 PM, EDT

Circuit Court Rules Against FedEx Freight in Union Case

Vincent desjardins/Flickr

The 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled against FedEx Freight in a case involving the National Labor Relations Board and must recognize a drivers-only bargaining unit in Stockton, California.

The three-judge panel found in the Oct. 12 ruling that freight truck drivers didn’t need to include dockworkers to join the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 439, affirming a ruling from the NLRB that certified the vote to unionize.

FedEx Freight is a subsidiary of FedEx Corp. which ranks No. 2 on the Transport Topics Top 100 list of the largest U.S. and Canadian for-hire carriers.

FedEx Freight unsuccessfully argued that the drivers and dockworkers had to be combined because they share common employment interests and concerns, but the judges found that there were significant differences between the two. For example, freight drivers work full time whereas dockworkers only part time. Drivers also get paid twice the amount of dockworkers, on average, and have access to different benefits, according to the ruling.

“The record is clear that the dockworkers are second-class citizens of the employment force at the Stockton terminal when all benefits and costs are toted up, and this suggests a potential for serious discord should the dockworkers be placed in the same union as the drivers,” the ruling states.

It’s the third federal appeals court to reject a claim from FedEx that challenged the standard for determining what standards to use to form a collective bargaining unit. The Third Circuit ruled against the company in an August ruling concerning drivers in New Jersey. The Eight Circuit made a similar ruling earlier in the year.