The Teamsters closed out the final quarter of 2023 with several representation victories and no known decertification votes, and started this year with a significant strike by food delivery truck drivers.

The picket lines are up in suburban Chicago and elsewhere after more than 130 members of the Teamsters went on strike Monday at 12:01 a.m. against giant food distributor US Foods (NYSE: USFD). The workers are represented by Local 705. The union’s contract with the food distributor expired Dec. 29.

A spokeswoman for the food distributor said negotiations are ongoing, which the Teamsters confirmed in a post on X.  Saying that the company was “disappointed” by the strike, the spokeswoman said US Food drivers receive “highly competitive offerings.” “In fact, our drivers in Bensenville currently receive wages and benefits that are market-leading for foodservice distribution in Chicagoland, and our current proposal includes increases to both wages and benefits,” she said.

In its statement announcing the strike, the Teamsters quoted Juan Campos, Local 705 secretary-treasurer and international vice-president at-large. “Our warning to US Foods was clear — meet our demands at the negotiating table or face a strike,” Campos said. “Now, the company must bear the consequences of their inaction. Our members will remain on the streets until US Foods gets serious in negotiations.”

The Teamsters for a Democratic Union, a separate group that is generally critical of the national Teamsters management for not being aggressive enough, said in a post that picket lines at other US Foods facilities have gone up in solidarity with the Illinois strikers. 

TDU said in its web posting that solidarity picket lines have gone up in front of US Foods facilities in Baltimore, Cleveland, California and Buffalo, New York.  

TDU said “scab” drivers had been employed to keep operations moving at the affected facilities, using rented trucks.

The US Foods spokeswoman said “business continuity plans are in place” at Bensenville “to continue to service customers, which includes a temporary workforce.” As to disruptions at other facilities impacted by the strike, the spokeswoman said in a similar vein that US Foods has “activated business continuity plans to help mitigate disruptions for our valued customers serviced from those facilities.”

In that post on X, the Teamsters said the number of US Foods workers on picket lines was close to 1,000.

The strike is significant enough that local news coverage in places such as Indiana and Detroit said area schools have been impacted by a cutback in deliveries for their food programs.

While strikes are more visual and get the attention, it’s representation votes that provide the longer-term impact of unionization or a lack of it. And on that front, the Teamsters finished the year strong.

The push at 10 Roads Express

In particular, regional carrier 10 Roads Express saw 81 drivers from its Commerce City, Colorado, facility vote to join Teamsters Local 17, and 45 workers at Newark, New Jersey, will join Teamsters Local 641.

In announcing the winning certification elections at the two locations, the Teamsters noted that it had been targeting 10 Roads Express in organizing efforts. Victories in early November brought 36 drivers into the fold in Iowa and Nebraska at 10 Roads Express. Earlier in the year, Teamsters won representation with 10 Roads Express at Edgerton and Colby, Kansas, which the union said were the first victories in the unionization drive targeting the company.

The victories come as 10 Roads Express faces pressure as a carrier for the US Postal Service, as do other companies that provide the Postal Service with freight services. In November, the company laid off 66 employees in Texas.

A note sent to 10 Roads Express’ web portal had not been responded to by publication time. 

In other victories late in the year, the Teamsters successfully won a representation vote at a Costco warehouse in Norfolk, Virginia, in December. A spokeswoman for the Teamsters said more than 18,000 Costco workers nationwide are already represented by the Teamsters. But the union’s announcement said it was the first organizing victory of Costco workers in two decades.

Also in December, a group of clerks who work for UPS-CSI, a division of UPS which the union said specializes in “importing and exporting high-volume freight,” voted to be represented by the Teamsters.

“Several weeks ago, the workers reached out to Local 243 after speaking with their co-workers who are already Teamsters, and seeing the historic gains won by the IBT during the 2023 UPS contract campaign,” Local 243 said in a statement announcing the victory at UPS-CSI.

The reference to the 2023 contract campaign was to the five-year agreement reached between the union and UPS management and overwhelmingly ratified by the rank and file. The contract was generally seen as a win for the union.

No recent decertifications

It’s been quiet on the decertification front for the Teamsters. The National Right to Work Committee regularly has touted to FreightWaves victories removing the Teamsters from representation — including the stunning vote to oust the union at XPO (NYSE: XPO) in Hialeah, Florida, site of the first contract signed by the Teamsters with the LTL carrier. But it has not said anything about the Teamsters on its web page for several months, even as it has highlighted other decertification votes.

In what could be viewed as another win for the Teamsters, a contract negotiation that appears to have gone smoothly and without rancor saw drivers from seven separate locals late last month ratify a “record-setting” new contract with Peninsula Trucking, an LTL carrier based in Auburn, Washington. 

Peninsula calls itself “the premier regional LTL Carrier to over 950 cities and towns throughout the Northwest.”

In its announcement of the deal, the Teamsters said the latest contract was approved “overwhelmingly” by the union members, which it described as consisting of “city drivers, line drivers, dock workers and office/clerical workers.”

“Negotiations went smoothly, as the two sides were able to reach an agreement in just one long day of bargaining,” the union said in its announcement of the new contract. The Teamsters said the contract means workers will “receive larger wage increases and pension increases than ever before, on top of other improvements to the contract.”

“Peninsula Truck Lines, which is locally owned and managed, came into the contract negotiations with a willingness to recognize and reward the workforce for their hard work and professionalism, leading to this strong contract,” the union said. 

More articles by John Kingston

Teamsters celebrated NLRB decision on STG Logistics, sees path to greater unionization

2 contacts in 2 weeks: XPO, Teamsters come to agreement in Trenton

A first for Werner: Small group of workers votes to unionize

The post Teamsters rack up late-2023 wins, stage significant strike in ’24 appeared first on FreightWaves.

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