After months of slow-walking negotiations, Sysco management submitted a “Last, Best and Final Offer” to the Teamsters Local 89 negotiating committee last week. Today, Sysco drivers met at our union hall for a contract explanation meeting and vote. Local 89 and the rank-and-file bargaining committee gave a thorough explanation of the offer and recommended a no vote. The drivers were given time to discuss, comment and ask questions before they ultimately chose to soundly reject the offer.
“These guys are fed up with this company,” said Business Agent Trey McCutcheon, who has been chairing negotiations alongside President Avral Thompson. “They are done being mistreated. Sysco could have easily given them the wages and respect they deserve, but now these guys are going to have to take it from them.”
Sysco delivery drivers organized with Teamsters Local 89 in 2022, overcoming an extremely vicious anti-union campaign from the company. Although the drivers won their election, their employer chose to fight them just as hard during negotiations.
“In many ways the organizing drive never ended,” said Organizer David Thornsberry. “Instead of trying to get them to vote against the union, now Sysco is just trying to get them to vote in favor of a subpar agreement that doesn’t address the drivers concerns.”
“These folks came to us because they wanted changes in their workplace,” said Thompson. “We’ve managed to move Sysco a decent amount on money, but pay isn’t the only thing that made these drivers want to be Teamsters.”
Wages may not quite be where drivers want them to be yet, but they are also seriously concerned about benefits, workplace safety, and work-life balance. Sysco routinely works drivers 12 to 14 hour shifts which physically exhausts them, takes a toll on their health, and deprives them of valuable time with their families. Keep in mind, this isn’t just a driving job. These drivers deliver food supplies to hundreds of stores, a job that requires them to travel from location to location and manually unload and deliver hundreds of packages every day. Such physical labor is difficult enough, let alone when being forced into irresponsibly long work hours.
“From day one of us meeting with these drivers their primary issues were wages, benefits, safety and long hours,” said Organizer Bryan Trafford. “Sysco’s offer doesn’t adequately address any of those, and that’s why these guys rejected this contract.”
Now that Sysco’s offer has been turned down, what happens next is up to the company. They could choose to do the right thing and address the issues that caused this rejection, or they could choose to ignore them. If Sysco intends on doing the latter, it is important that we make one thing abundantly clear. Teamsters Local 89 will back its members in any and every fight they are willing to take on, and we will do so with the full might and resources of our union.
“The Teamsters are not afraid of Sysco,” said Thompson. “And we’re ready to do whatever it takes to get these folks the contract they deserve.”