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Major win increases Teamster power in the Seattle beverage delivery industry
Nearly 100 beverage delivery drivers and warehouse workers have voted in favor of joining Teamsters Local 174, by a margin of more than 75 percent. The workers are employed by Penske Logistics, warehousing and delivering products for Republic National Distributing Corp (RNDC), an alcoholic beverage distributor with locations throughout the United States. The Penske workers join fellow beverage workers from Southern Glazers Wine and Spirits, Columbia Distributing, Anheuser Busch, PepsiCo, Swire Coca-Cola, and Shasta as members of Teamsters Local 174.
The organizing campaign for these workers was challenging, given the fact they work for a subcontractor, not directly for RNDC. Early in the campaign, several workers supporting the union organizing drive were fired by Penske in a clear case of retaliation for Union activity. Teamsters Local 174 filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of the workers, and Penske was found guilty of violating federal labor law. The workers received back wages due to Penske’s illegal actions. This blatant violation of the law helped energize the workers, culminating in a victory giving the workers the right to be represented by Local 174. The results were certified yesterday.
Heading the successful organizing drive was Teamsters Local 174 Organizing Director Meaza Ogbe, Local 174 Business Agent Abraham Taylor, and Columbia Distributing Shop Steward BJ Hallagin. They worked tirelessly for months meeting workers around the clock – whatever it took to make sure these workers all understood the value of being Union members.
“When we first started this organizing drive, we had a lot of challenges as the company pushed back really hard and people were scared of losing their jobs,” said Aipopo Vaifale, a Penske worker and another leader of the unionization drive. “But we gave it another push, and we pulled through. We really let the workers take the lead with no pressure, and sure enough they were all in. I’m looking forward to showing everyone they made the right choice once we get a contract.”
“Workers in this country are organizing and finding their voices on the job in record numbers, and we expect that trend to continue,” says Teamsters Local 174 Secretary Treasurer Rick Hicks. “This victory builds on our strong foundation in the beverage industry, and we look forward to getting a strong contract that values the labor our new members put in every day to make Penske successful.”
Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 8,600 working men and women in Seattle and the surrounding areas. “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeamstersLocal174.