Over the years, Bill Aboudi has portrayed himself as a champion of independent truckers in Oakland. The local businessman has a city contract to operate a large parking operation for big rigs at the former Oakland Army Base. But records also reveal strong evidence that Aboudi has violated several labor and environmental regulations in recent years, along with multiple city laws, and that he owes city taxpayers more than $235,000 in back rent and penalties for use of public property.
In recent weeks, Aboudi has been complaining loudly to public officials that he's being mistreated as the city readies the Army Base for a massive renovation project. Aboudi is demanding that the city take the lead in negotiating a lease for him at the Port of Oakland so that he can move his truck-parking operation to the port's section of the former military installation while the city renovates its half of the base. The $400 million city project is expected to take three to four years to complete and generate hundreds, if not thousands, of jobs.
But city and port officials may want to investigate Aboudi's treatment of workers and the environment before intervening further on his behalf. According to evidence presented in a class-action lawsuit filed by former employees of Aboudi's trucking business, AB Trucking, he owes 73 employees a total of nearly $1 million in back wages. In a tentative ruling issued last fall, Alameda County Superior Court Judge Robert Freedman concluded that there was "substantial and persuasive evidence" that Aboudi's employees "were routinely and consistently precluded from taking meal periods and rest breaks."
The judge also concluded that there was "persuasive" evidence that Aboudi "consistently failed to pay for all hours worked." According to calculations by the workers' attorneys — based on a formula that the judge ordered them to use — Aboudi owes the employees $964,557, along with more than $400,000 in court costs and attorney fees. Aboudi's lawyers have challenged the judge's tentative ruling, and both sides are awaiting Freedman's final decision.
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This article was originally published on EastBayExpress.com on March 6, 2013.