Domicile drivers at US Foods in Kalamazoo, Mich., voted yesterday to join Teamsters Local 337 in Detroit. The drivers voted more than 70 percent in favor of Teamster representation, joining more than 200 US Foods drivers and warehouse workers in Novi, Mich., who are already members of Local 337.
The drivers, who deliver products shuttled to them from the Novi warehouse to remote areas of the state, are seeking stronger job security as well as improved health care and retirement benefits. Their effort to organize got under way when they contacted Jeff Johnson, a Local 337 US Foods driver from Novi, who directed them to Pat Dougherty, the Local 337 Business Agent who represents both US Foods and Sysco members.
“This is a great victory for our members, the local and the International in the goal to organize Sysco and US Foods locations nationwide,” said Mike Martin, President of Local 337. “We thank the US Foods domicile drivers for choosing the Teamsters as their union and we look forward to representing them.”
Martin also thanked the Local 337 organizing team, including Director James Parrinello, Tony Reisdorf and Todd Lince, along with cooperation from Teamsters Local 7. “This was really a group effort,” he added.
US Foods mounted an anti-union campaign to convince drivers in Kalamazoo to vote against the union, but the drivers stayed united and prevailed in their organizing drive.
The victory in Kalamazoo comes on the heels of more than 400 Sysco drivers and warehouse workers joining Teamsters Local 528 in Atlanta in December, as well as Sysco drivers in Kansas City and US Foods drivers in Corona, Calif., who joined the union last year. Another campaign to organize more than 150 Sysco drivers and warehouse workers is under way in Grand Rapids, Mich., where an election is taking place on May 7.
Sysco and US Foods workers have been ramping up organizing campaigns with the Teamsters in the face of a possible merger between the two food distribution giants which could lead to significant job losses. Vocal opposition from the Teamsters and others has led to the Federal Trade Commission filing a lawsuit against the proposed merger.
“As president Hoffa says, organizing is the lifeblood of our union. Protecting and improving Teamster jobs starts with organizing new members at US Foods, Sysco and other non-union companies,” said Martin.