The Teamsters Union is stepping up its campaign for worker justice at Sysco, the largest broadline foodservice provider in the country. More than 10,000 workers at Sysco are Teamsters.
The escalation follows Sysco’s calculated nationwide campaign of threatening and disrespecting its employees, and its flagrant violations of the law when workers seek union representation. Workers want to stop management’s favoritism, create a fair pay system and stem increases in health insurance costs that make it too expensive for working families.
Workers have been fighting back by organizing as Teamsters.
In recent months, more than 1,000 workers across the country have voted to become Teamsters.
The campaign includes educating Sysco customers and the general public about the company’s well-documented history of violating workers’ rights. Sysco has been the subject of federal investigations of labor law violations in virtually every location where workers have chosen union representation.
Organizing for Power
In February, drivers at Sysco near Miami voted to join Local 769, the second organizing victory in less than three weeks at Sysco. The vote count was 100-25 in favor of joining the union and there are 132 drivers in the bargaining unit.
“Rather than valuing its hardworking employees who make this company successful, Sysco continues to disrespect them, flagrantly violate the law when they seek union representation, and still demand that they work harder and faster,” Vairma said. “Like more than 1,000 workers across the country in recent months, Sysco South Florida workers are saying ‘Enough is enough’ and standing together to take action.”
“This victory continues the strong worker organizing momentum at Sysco in South Florida,” said Josh Zivalich, President of Local 769 in Miami. “Sysco workers are tired of the way Sysco is mistreating them and they are demanding change now.”
In late January, drivers and helpers from Sysco’s Sygma Network in Monroe, Mich. near Detroit voted overwhelmingly to join Local 337.
There are 116 drivers and helpers in the bargaining unit. Workers in both locations want a fair and level playing field and an end to what feels like an endless string of company takeaways.
Last fall, 253 Sysco drivers near Boston voted overwhelmingly for Local 653 representation at the company’s New England distribution center that serves customers in five states.
Some of Sysco’s most egregious actions have taken place in Oklahoma, where the company fired five stewards who are members of Local 886 in Oklahoma City.
The stewards worked at the company’s Norman, Okla. center and were vocal in fighting against a company-backed effort to withdraw recognition from Tulsa union members.
The union has filed numerous unfair labor practice charges against the company over the firings.
The union has also appealed a ruling by the National Labor Relations Board that the firings should be settled in arbitration.
As the workers wait for a ruling on the union’s appeal, they all say they will not stop fighting until they win the justice they deserve. Fortunately, as Teamsters, they have a process to fight their firings. If they had been nonunion, they would have been at-will employees and had little recourse.
James Daniels, one of the fired stewards in Oklahoma, worked at Sysco in Norman for 33 years—30 of those years as a steward—when he was targeted by management for termination. The company alleged he was dishonest over drinking a soda on duty—an excuse to fire him for his union activism.
Since his firing, Daniels has worked on several organizing campaigns at Sysco, where he has delivered important messages to workers.
“I tell Sysco workers that they need to stick together and fight for positive change on the job by forming their union,” Daniels said. “The only way to improve things at Sysco is for workers to organize and negotiate a legally binding contract—a Teamster contract.”
Nathan Ray is another steward who was fired. He is driving for another Teamster-represented company while he waits to hear about his case.
“Don’t be intimidated by the company, the Teamsters have your back,” Ray said. “The only way to get things fixed is to stand together and organize.”
For more information, visit the “Foodservice Teamsters Fight for Justice” page on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SyscoUSFworkers.