The Teamsters and UNITE HERE jointly represent about 8,000 Gate Gourmet workers nationally, with individual locations represented by one union or split (drivers as Teamsters). The IBT represents 3,500 members in cities including Chicago, Los Angeles, Washington D.C., Atlanta, and Memphis.
The notice of a strike vote came as a surprise to many members. There had been little information coming from the IBT about the status of negotiations, which are being led by IBT Western Region Warehouse Director Steve Vairma.
Gate Gourmet is demanding huge concessions, including:
- Big wage cuts with top wages for some workers as low as $8 an hour,
- Company health insurance contributions cut to $100 a month maximum,
- Eliminating pension and 401(k) plans,
- Making 15% of workers part-time employees with no benefits.
To resist this attack, the national leadership of the IBT and UNITE HERE need a plan to put pressure on Gate Gourmet and its owners, the Texas Pacific Group (TPG). TPG is a private investment company with over $13 billion in assets. It owns Burger King, Motorola, and the clothing store J. Crew, so it has deep pockets.
Reportedly the new CEO is behind the union-busting approach the company is taking.
What Is the Plan?
The union leadership has demanded that health premiums be no more that $40 per month for each worker and that important on-the-job protections be instated, along with wage increases.
What is the plan to win? That is what is needed from the IBT/UNITE HERE Council.
The Gate Gourmet Teamsters appear headed for a battle. All of labor should stand with them.