With bargaining in the food service industry just around the corner, Teamsters 117 members at Sysco and FSA are getting organized.
Contract surveys are being finalized, steward elections are in the works, and rank-and-file leaders are stepping up and talking up the union on the shop floor.
Before long, a demands meeting will be scheduled where members will have their opportunity to provide input prior to negotiations getting underway this summer.
Contracts for 283 drivers and warehouse workers in the two shops expire at the end of August and all indications point to challenging negotiations ahead.
“When we stand together, we ensure that our labor is respected. Solidarity in each shop and in the industry sends a message that we are organized and will not be pushed around,” said Secretary-Treasurer Tracey A. Thompson, who, together with Local 117 President John Scearcy, will lead negotiations in the industry.
As union members, an important part of preparing for bargaining involves setting up a rank-and-file “communication's network.” The network consists of 10-member groups and a captain. Each captain is a steering committee member, who is responsible for keeping his or her 10 assigned members informed during negotiations.
On Saturday, March 31, 30 members in the industry met to set up the communication networks. Drivers and warehouse workers at Sysco along with warehouse workers from FSA sat down with seniority lists and divided them into 10-person groups.
“It is our job to relay information to members,” said Brian Brown, one of the steering committee captains, who works the graveyard shift at FSA. “Whenever there is a meeting or a solidarity action, it’s our job to let members know.”
“Steering committees will help us achieve better communication, better turnout for meetings, and greater member involvement, which will increase our leverage at the table,” said President Scearcy. Together with a strong network of Stewards, steering committees are another indication that Teamsters in the food service industry are united and ready for the challenges ahead.
To receive information during bargaining, make sure your steering committee captain has your updated contact information. If you don’t know who your steering committee captain is, talk to your Shop Steward or Business Representative.