Over the last several months, members across our Union have been fighting valiantly to preserve contracts that guarantee job security and middle class wages. Workers have stood in solidarity, defended their livelihoods, and in some cases, put their lives on the line in the fight for fairness and economic justice.
SCS, US FOODS, FRED MEYER AND DOC
At SCS Refrigerated Services, 41 courageous cold storage workers went on a week-long Unfair Labor Practice strike in protest of the employer’s refusal to bargain in good faith.
At US Foods, 109 workers honored a picket line that had been established by their striking Brothers and Sisters, thousands of miles away, in Streator, Illinois.
After a 3-month battle, 362 Teamsters at Fred Meyer achieved a significant victory by ratifying a contract that brings them up to the standards of other workers in the grocery warehouse industry, but only because they were willing to stand together and fight.
At the Department of Corrections, members face devastating budget cuts that would slash jobs and put the safety of our communities and our State’s correctional workers at risk. Members are fighting to stop the cuts and are encouraging their legislators to develop a revenue plan that helps fund the DOC. We urge you to join them by calling the Legislative Hotline at 1-800-562-6000.
WORKING FAMILIES UNDER ATTACK
In every case, the root cause of the fight is the same: opportunistic employers attempting to subvert the collective bargaining process and exact major concessions from workers.
In the case of SCS, the situation was dire: Members had been working without a contract since March 2011. Negotiations were going nowhere because the employer was not bargaining in good faith. The employer had cancelled numerous bargaining sessions and was trying to force members to accept an offer that gutted their health care and slashed wages for some workers by $7/hr.
On October 21, the group voted unanimously to strike, and picket lines were established the following Monday. Almost immediately after the strike began, workers were joined by their fellow Teamsters and other supporters on the line. Teamsters from Safeway, Seafreeze, Simon Metals, SuperValu, K-Pac, Huttig, and Fred Meyer walked with their SCS Brothers and Sisters. Many brought hot coffee, food, and wood for burn barrels down to the line.
PICKETING WORKERS THREATENED
There were tense moments, and on several occasions, peaceful picketers were subjected to violence. Workers were hit by cars or trucks trying to ram through the line. In one incident, a former manager turned scab, was arrested after threatening picketers with a baseball bat.
“He pulled up and started getting lippy with everybody. Next thing you know he was hopping out of his truck with a baseball bat,” said SCS worker, Ken Sheaffer.
Despite the violence, the group held strong; not a single member crossed.
On October 30, the strike ended: The intense pressure the workers put on the employer had reignited the bargaining process. Just three weeks later, the full meaning of the strike became clear. Not only did members ratify a contract, it was a deal that included wage and pension increases, maintained health and welfare benefits, and protected industry standards. The vote in favor was overwhelming.
The strike at SCS, along with the fights at Fred Meyer, US Foods and the DOC, teach us valuable lessons about our Union. They remind us that working people, whether in the private sector, public sector, or at the Department of Corrections, are under attack like never before. They remind us how critical it is for your Union to have every weapon at its disposal so that we are ready to take on the fight.
STRIKE FUND PASSES ON 3-1 VOTE!
Thanks to members who voted to establish a Local 117 Strike Fund for members in the private sector, an additional weapon is now in our arsenal. A Strike Fund will provide your Union with additional leverage to negotiate stronger contracts for all members of Teamsters Local 117.
WHEN WE FIGHT, WE WIN!
Most importantly, these battles teach us that when courageous working people take a stand together and fight, we can achieve significant victories.
Our strike at SCS helped build leverage in bargaining that resulted in a ratified contract in line with industry standards.
Our fight with Fred Meyer improved the strong contracts in the grocery industry. Solidarity actions at US Foods showed an anti-Union employer that Teamsters across the country will not hesitate to support each other.
The fight for safety-related legislation for correctional workers that began last year continues. With your help, staff safety at the DOC will be a statutory priority.
As members of Teamsters Local 117, we must stand together as one Union and fight, whenever we are under attack.
Because when we fight, we win!