Organizing Roundup

L O C A L 1 6 6

Aredent Mills

California millers, lab technicians, warehouse and maintenance workers knew they had the right ingredients to win Teamster representation at Ardent Mills.

After years of making and handling flour for the company’s milling center in Colton, Calif., the 24-person unit stood strong in their fight for a voice on the job, overcoming management’s tough opposition to join Local 166 in Bloomington, Calif.

“We have had a hard time with a supervisor and we needed to form our union to begin getting treated fairly,” said Raul Alvarez, a lead worker on the organizing committee and three-and-a-half-year employee for the company. “Our health insurance is also very, very expensive. I pay $320 a month out-of-pocket for a family plan with very high co-pays.”

In addition to better health care, the 24-worker bargaining unit is also looking to put an end to favoritism and unfair work rules, said Joe Maae, a business agent and organizer with Local 166.

“They need fair, consistent work rules and better benefits. Some workers are required to do other jobs and they are paying a lot out of pocket each month on health care,” Maae said.

Local 166 Secretary-Treasurer Mike Bergen is looking forward to negotiating a contract for his new members at the Ardent Mill’s bakery-mix center.

“The workers are desperately seeking respect and fairness on the job and we will work hard to negotiate a contract that addresses their needs at Ardent Mills,” Bergen said.

L O C A L 3 3 7

US Foods

Domicile drivers at US Foods in Kalamazoo, Mich. recently voted to join Local 337.

The drivers voted more than 70 percent in favor of representation, joining more than 200 US Foods drivers and warehouse workers in Novi, Mich. who are already members of Local 337.

“This is a tremendous victory for our members, the local and the International Union in our joint goal to organize Sysco and US Foods locations nationwide,” said Local 337 President Mike Martin. “We thank the US Foods domicile drivers for supporting our union and look forward to representing them in the rich tradition of the Teamsters.”

“This was really a group effort which helped secure an important victory,” said Local 337 Secretary-Treasurer Pat Dougherty. “It was very tough, as the company fought our campaign. However, in the end the truth about our union prevailed as workers voted to take charge and improve their workplace by joining the Teamsters Union.”

US Foods mounted an aggressive antiunion campaign to dissuade workers from supporting Local 337. However, to their credit, the drivers rebuffed the company, stayed united and got the union they wanted.

L O C A L 5 5 4

Red Cross

Red Cross employees in Omaha, Neb., recently voted to join the Teamsters.

Fifty-seven mobile Red Cross blood collection agents based in Grand Island and North Platte, Neb., selected union representation when the ballots were tabulated on Dec. 18, 2015.

The phlebotomists, collections specialists, technicians, mobile unit assistants and apheresis employees voted 39-13 in a combined election to join Local 554.

“Everyone is thrilled for these workers,” said Scott Uteck, a business agent with Local 554. “They stuck together and their strength will be rewarded with their first contract. We congratulate them, and especially everyone on the organizing committee, for all of their hard work and dedication that led to this successful effort.”

“We have a newfound confidence at work knowing the Teamsters have our back to negotiate and enforce a contract that protects our employment interests,” said Courtney Sklenar, a Red Cross collection specialist based in Grand Island.

L O C A L 1 6 6

Ozark Automotive Distributors

For half a decade, workers at a warehouse in Moreno Valley, Calif. have gone without union representation despite voting in favor of joining Local 166 in 2010. Now the 65 warehouse workers and drivers of Ozark Automotive Distributors, who stock and deliver supplies to O’Reilly Auto Parts stores, can finally call themselves Teamsters. An election held on Jan. 8 resulted in a majority voting in favor of joining the union.

“This has been an epic fight for these workers and our local but we prevailed at every turn,” said Mike Bergen, Secretary-Treasurer of Local 166 in Bloomington, Calif. “The company fought tooth and nail to prevent the workers from having the Teamster representation they voted for but the workers at the warehouse held strong throughout the five-year saga.”

The workers first reached out to the union after the company changed the pay format from hourly to piecemeal. A majority voted in favor of the union in a 2010 election but the company filed objections with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). After the NLRB ruled against the company, Ozark took the board’s decision to court, losing one appeal after the other as the case went all the way up to the Supreme Court.

Even after the Supreme Court ruled against it, the company remained obstinate. Local 166 then withdrew several objections it had filed against the company, prompting the NLRB to call for a new election this year. Once again, the workers voted in support of the union, putting an end to the years-long struggle for representation.

“It feels great. It’s such a relief to finally have our union after five long years of sticking together during all the appeals,” said Robert Castilleja, a six-year driver at the company.