LME Trucking closes

LME trucks sit in a line at a freight terminal in Stewartville on Monday. The Twin Cities-based trucking firm abruptly shut down last week. (Joe Ahlquist / jahlquist@postbulletin.com)

Twin Cities-based trucking firm LME has abruptly shut down its operations, including a two-year-old freight terminal in Stewartville.

LME's Stewartville terminal at 2472 Henry Road NW went quiet on Friday as did the firm's other 29 locations in multiple states.

It's unclear how many people locally have lost their jobs, though the company's website says it has 600 employees overall.

Company officials have been unavailable for comment.

Word of the unexpected closure started filtering out on Thursday, and then a notice was posted on the company's website on Friday.

The man in charge of LME’s North Dakota freight terminals in Fargo, Bismarck, Minot and Grand Forks said he got the news in a phone call at 4:30 p.m. Thursday.

“The words were, ‘I got some bad news for you,’” said Regional Manager Jeff Thoennes.

The message on the LME company webpage stated, “Effective immediately, LME will no longer be accepting any pickups.”

LME has terminals in 30 locations across the U.S., and through interline agreements services all of North America, according to the company’s website.

The firm said it had "blanket coverage" in Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Minnesota, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota and Wisconsin as well as part of a broader network with links throughout the U.S., Canada, Mexico and the Caribbean.

The company said it operated more than 1,200 tractors and trailers.

Thoennes said many trucking companies have been struggling with thin margins. “They’ve been going down right and left” over the last few years.

Another issue for LME is litigation with the National Labor Relations Board and the Minnesota Department of Labor stemming from the 2016 closure of Roseville, Minn.-based Lakeville Motor Express.

Just before Thanksgiving of that year, Lakeville Motor Express filed for bankruptcy and suddenly shut its doors, laying off 95 union drivers and dockworkers without pay.

Former employees alleged that the company moved its operations, changed its name to LME, Inc. or Finish Line Express, and staffed the carrier with “non-union” workers, according to a report by the Star Tribune.

Last year, the NLRB said its investigation found wrongdoing and described LME as an “alter ego” of the defunct Lakeville Motor Express.

While LME officials strongly denied the NLRB’s findings, the two sides came to an agreement in January of this year.

The company agreed to issue back wages of $1.25 million to 89 of the 95 workers before June 2024.

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