(Washington, D.C.) – Sysco’s acquisition of US Foods announced last week raises serious concerns for workers, stakeholders and customers as the combined company becomes the country’s largest institutional/restaurant food service provider.
James P. Hoffa, General President of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT), called on Sysco and US Foods to begin a national dialogue immediately with stakeholders to ensure a successful transaction.
“Sysco and US Foods should sit down now with stakeholders – including labor – to build a company that supports workers, protects customers and receives the government’s blessing,” Hoffa said. “Taking the high road now, by choosing a strategic partnership with its workers and their representatives, could improve the company’s competitive performance.”
The Teamsters are the largest union at each company with more than 7,000 members at Sysco and more than 4,000 at US Foods. Teamsters hold nearly 100 contracts across both companies, many of which will be expiring and renegotiated over the next year.
The transaction, expected to conclude in late 2014, already faces scrutiny by the Federal Trade Commission over potential anti-trust concerns; a combined company, according to Sysco executives, is expected to control 25 percent of the food service market. Customers this week expressed frustration about reduced competition among providers – nervous about possible increased costs and quality of service.
“Teamsters, who are the face of Sysco and US Foods to their customers, are the foundation of these companies’ success,” said Steve Vairma, Teamster Warehouse Division Director and International Vice President. “These men and women will be critical in building Sysco’s future, in maintaining and growing its customer base. Management should work with labor now to ensure a seamless transition.”
Dozens of metropolitan areas are currently home to both Sysco and US Foods, raising questions for communities about the effects of consolidation –and an anticipated $600 million in savings over three to four years – on the workforce and employment in their areas.
“Too often transactions like this are crafted to benefit the few, the 1 percent, without regard to workers or customers. Making good choices now by engaging major stakeholders will obviously pay big dividends as this transaction moves ahead,” Hoffa said. “We are prepared for a dialogue about ways to protect working families at these companies. And we’re prepared to stand up for them as this deal unfolds.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.