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Teamsters, BMW workers protest at labor law firm in L.A.

July 26, 2011 |  2:58 pm

IMG00112-20110726-1216 Dozens of Teamsters and BMW employees rallied outside the offices of labor law firm Jackson Lewis on Tuesday and handed out yellow fliers accusing the firm of helping BMW "destroy American jobs" as they tried to draw attention to an issue that has agitated union members in recent months.

The protest drew onlookers at the crowded intersection of 7th and Figueroa in downtown L.A. as a Teamsters truck circled the block and other cars honked their horns in support.

The Teamsters are protesting a BMW decision to lay off 68 employees at BMW's plant in Ontario and replace them with contract workers provided by a third-party logistics company. 

"It's just corporate greed," said John Soto, who makes $25 an hour with benefits; he worries he'll lose his Moreno Valley home if he loses his job Aug. 31.

BMW says its switch to the third-party logistics company is not about unions or wages, but is instead about operating the Ontario facility as it operates three others -- through third-party providers.

But hiring contract workers rather than more expensive union employees is not uncommon in this economy as companies try to cut costs.  For example, the National Labor Relations Board alleges that Boeing Co. decided to relocate work from union plants in Washington state to a non-union factory in South Carolina to cut costs.

 "This economy is giving corporations a leg up," said Tim Kitchens, a 33-year BMW employee who was standing on a concrete sculpture, waving two American flags in the air.

BMW is meeting with the Teamsters on Wednesday for further discussions.

-- Alana Semuels

RELATED:

BMW layoffs exemplify the evisceration of the middle class

Lower-paying jobs dominate recovery

Photo: A man holding a sign in German protesting against Jackson Lewis. Credit: Alana Semuels / Los Angeles Times

 

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