Food Distribution Workers Vote Overwhelmingly for Union Representation, Seek Higher Pay and Respect
Galen MunroeEmail: [email protected] Phone: (202) 624-6911
(ONTARIO, Calif.) – California warehouse workers and drivers at Vistar, a Performance Food Group (PFG) company, have voted 70 percent in favor of joining Teamsters Local 630 in Los Angeles, Calif. There are 71 workers in the bargaining unit and all but one participated in the Aug. 27 election.
The workers at Vistar decided to organize to address the lack of respect, low wages and inadequate health benefits at the company. The victory follows two previous organizing successes among drivers and warehouse workers at another PFG company, Roma Food, who joined Local 630 earlier this year and in November 2014 in separate elections.
Like workers at Roma, drivers and warehouse workers at Vistar are mostly Latino. A majority of the largely immigrant workforce makes little more than minimum wage while handling goods for the division of PFG, one of the largest private companies in the U.S. with almost $14 billion in annual revenue and 11,000 employees.
“We are very happy to welcome our newest members at Vistar who worked so hard and overcame many obstacles to achieve this victory,” said Ernesto Lopez, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 630. “Together with the workers at Roma, we are fighting to raise standards in this industry. We look forward to negotiating a strong contract that elevates Vistar workers and their families.”
“As a collective group here at Vistar, we decided that it was time for the working-class individuals to stand up, for not only in what we believe in, but for our rights as working-class Americans,” said Modesto Gabriel Carballo, a Vistar worker and active member of the workers’ organizing committee.
Vistar drivers and warehouse employees approached the Teamsters earlier this year seeking better wages, benefits and a voice on the job. Wages for the workers are barely above minimum wage, including longtime employees who have been at Vistar for more than 15 years. The workers also see a disparity in pay between men and women at Vistar, with women earning noticeably less than men doing similar work.
During the organizing drive, Vistar brought in anti-union consultants from law firm Jackson Lewis to combat the workers’ Teamster campaign. Newly-organized Teamsters at Roma supported their brothers and sisters at Vistar, attending organizing meetings and countering the fear tactics from the anti-union campaign.
“This was a very tough campaign but once again the workers prevailed,” said Local 630 organizer Oscar Ruiz. “When we started, these workers felt so neglected by the company – like they didn’t even exist. With this win, we are continuing the struggle against the low standards that PFG has set compared to other Teamster employers in the industry.”
Ruiz added that this week’s victory boosts the union’s leverage at the bargaining table for both Vistar and Roma workers seeking strong collective bargaining agreements.
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 on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.