A group of twenty-nine workers at Canteen Vending have voted to join Teamsters Local 810 in Long Island City, New York. The new members work as vending drivers, vending helpers, pantry drivers, pantry helpers, and warehouse helpers. The vote was 22 – 6 in favor of voting to join the union.
The workplace started out as Champion Vending, but it was bought by Canteen Vending in August 2016. Local 810 already has a collective bargaining agreement with another Canteen Vending location, so when Champion was bought out, they saw an opportunity.
“Some of the main reasons the workers wanted to join was to attain better working conditions and benefits,” said Mike Smith, President and Principal Officer of Local 810. “They know that most of the workers in this industry are union and are making more money than they are, and with other the collective bargaining agreements , we were able to show them firsthand what our members get.”
The campaign began late last year and lasted a little over four months. Local 810 began by reaching out to drivers on their routes. From there they began to have meetings at the union hall and formed an organizing committee. Smith and his committee members would touch base with the workers every day about the union.
The campaign was successful, and over 90 percent of the workers signed authorization cards. On March 17, they walked into management’s office with a letter demanding union recognition. The company refused to recognize the union, but the workers were undeterred. Some of them even wore Teamster T-shirts and bracelets to work leading up to the vote.
Two weeks later, the successful election took place.
“I want to congratulate the committee and everyone at Canteen Vending for their hard work during this organizing campaign,” Smith said. “I’m a third-generation union worker, and I will make sure that my kids have an opportunity to be fourth generation. Labor built this country, and we’re not going anywhere.”