Under O’Brien, Revitalized Teamsters Fight Hard, Conquer America’s Largest Food Distributor
(WASHINGTON) – After months of all-out economic warfare between Sysco and Teamsters across the country, the union has achieved a phenomenal victory. This morning, workers at Sysco Boston voted overwhelmingly, 215-2, in favor of a record-breaking agreement, successfully ending the strike with a resounding victory for more than 300 members of Local 653 in Plympton, Mass.
The new five-year agreement marks the end of this round of coordinated bargaining following major contract wins for Local 104 members at Sysco Arizona and Local 317 members at Sysco Syracuse. Local 653’s strike lines were supported by Local 104, and more locals promised to honor the line if pickets appeared at their facilities. This national effort, which was acknowledged by the company, was the key to the great results achieved at Sysco Boston.
“Corporations will fear the Teamsters. Their ability to hold down our members is over. The Teamsters are ending it,” Teamsters General President Sean M. O’Brien said. “Any company that bullies workers will be met with the full firepower of this union. Our momentum cannot be stopped. We still have open contracts around the country, and we will strike again and again to protect our members.”
After seeing coordinated, universal resistance from workers at nearly every Sysco-branded facility across the U.S., the company requested to meet with O’Brien to ask for a change in its relationship with the Teamsters. When O’Brien met with Sysco executives on Oct. 5, he sent a clear message that the International would not consider discussing a peaceful transition until all contracts are resolved and Sysco’s lawsuits meant to harass local unions were withdrawn. As a result, and as part of the Sysco Boston agreement, the company agreed to withdraw all of its lawsuits and NLRB charges.
“I’ve never been prouder to be a Teamster. This fight proves that we truly are the biggest, fastest, strongest union in the world,” said Kevin Whitten, a 15-year driver at Sysco Boston and shop steward for Local 653. “This strike brought members together like never before and built solidarity that will continue for years to come. We want to thank everyone from across the country who stood with us. Sysco will now think twice before trying to take on the Teamsters.”
The new contract includes significant improvements, including an $11.00 per hour raise over five years (starting with $5.00 in year one); life-changing improvements in retirement benefits; maintenance of industry-leading, affordable union health care; overtime improvements; and MLK Day as a paid holiday.
“These workers were fearless. They were going to hold the line until they got the contract they deserved, and they did,” said Tom Erickson, Director of the Teamsters Warehouse Division. “Let this be a lesson to Sysco and any other employer that our members are united and ready to fight back for what they deserve.”
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.2 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico. Visit teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and “like” us on Facebook at facebook.com/teamsters.