Workers at Daniele Foods in Pascoag, RI voted by a 2-1 margin to join Teamsters Local 251 on March 17. The new members work in shipping and receiving and as drivers at the company’s food manufacturing plant. There are 23 workers in the bargaining unit.
“This was a long fight and it feels great that we prevailed,” said Ryan Burroughs, a 2-year forklift operator with the company. “The company tried to divide and demean us, but we had a strong core group that stuck together.”
Burroughs, who was a leader in the drive to organize his coworkers, added that the campaign was about justice, noting that there are many longtime workers at Daniele Foods who are underpaid despite their many years of service.
“Daniele is huge – they just put on a $61 million addition to the plant,” said Local 251 organizer Mike Simone. “Their revenue is $135 million a year. These employees average $12 an hour, no retirement, no paid sick or personal time, and that’s the reason they came to our local.”
Simone added that this is the first step in a larger organizing effort at Daniele Foods where another 250 production employees could be organized.
The campaign to organize the shipping and receiving departments, including drivers, got under way after a Local 251 member who delivers propane to the plant put the workers in touch with his union about five weeks ago.
The company launched a huge anti-union campaign to divide workers, bringing in union-busting consultants and personally attacking pro-union workers. Simone says the company violated the workers’ rights when it told them they could not wear union pins even though they are allowed to wear other jewelry.
The local has filed several unfair labor practice charges against the company.
“We are glad that the workers at Daniele Foods stood strong and made the right choice to become Teamsters,” said Matthew Taibi, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 251. “We look forward to sitting down with the company and negotiating a strong union contract that addresses these workers issues.”