(FIFE, Wash.) – Teamsters working at US Foods’ distribution facility here this evening refused to cross the picket line in solidarity with Teamsters in Severn, Md., who began an unfair labor practice strike against the company last month.
Teamsters Local 117 is the latest group of US Foods workers to honor a picket line supporting the striking Maryland workers. They join 280 members of Local 455 in Denver who did so this morning. And last week, picket lines were extended to US Foods locations in Streator, Ill. and Wixom, Mich. after similar pickets were held in West Seneca, N.Y. and Twinsburg, Ohio earlier this month. The Severn workers are on strike to protest allegations that US Foods violated federal law that protects workers’ rights.
Similar actions also took place across Southern California and in Phoenix in May. In all, more than 1,400 Teamsters employed by US Foods have either gone out on strike or honored workers’ picket lines at some point this month.
The current labor disputes are not new to US Foods. In February, more than 200 Teamsters at the Phoenix facility went on a four-day unfair labor practice strike. In 2011, an unfair labor practice strike by maintenance employees in Streator was extended to more than 10 US foods facilities across America. More than 2,000 Teamsters honored extended picket lines during the 2011 strike.
Steve Vairma, Teamsters International Vice President and Director of the Teamsters’ Warehouse Division, said, “We have seen a pattern of abusive behavior by US Foods for years. It’s no surprise that their workers have no choice but to go on unfair labor practice strikes to protest how they are being treated. US Foods is willing to destroy good jobs and local economies so that its private equity owners KKR and CD&R can wring every last penny out of the company before they try to sell it. I’m proud of our members who are standing up for their rights and of our brothers and sisters who are honoring their picket lines. Teamsters know that an injury to one is an injury to all.”
US Foods is the nation’s second-largest foodservice provider. It is owned by Wall Street private equity behemoths KKR and CD&R, which added nearly $5 billion of debt to US Foods’ books when they bought it in 2007. US Foods announced its IPO in February, trying to raise $1 billion from investors so KKR and CD&R can get rid of the company.
In January 2016, KKR and CD&R took nearly $670 million in cash out of the company to distribute to its two owners – half of it borrowed – even though it is already operating under a mountain of debt. Since its purchase by the two private equity firms nine years ago, US Foods has engaged in a systematic campaign of harassment and intimidation against its workers, both union and non-union.
The company earned $23 billion in annual revenue in 2014. US Foods provides 350,000 products and services to 200,000 customers including restaurants, hospitals, schools, military bases and hotels. US Foods has 25,000 employees and 75 distribution facilities. The Teamsters represent 4,300 US Foods employees, with 44 contracts at 29 facilities.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.