More than 10,000 Teamsters work at Sysco, along with tens of thousands of nonunion warehouse workers and drivers.
Despite being covered by separate contracts, Sysco Teamsters from different locals are coordinating to win better contracts, organize nonunion facilities, and enforce their rights.
New IBT leadership in the warehouse division has supported coordinated bargaining and strikes.
Strategic militancy at the top of our union combined with rank-and-file solidarity at the bottom is delivering stronger contracts.
Sysco workers in Indiana Local 135 and Louisville Local 89 are the latest Teamsters to put this winning formula to work.
Fed up with wages that didn’t keep up with the cost of living, excessive overtime, and safety issues, Sysco Teamsters in Indiana elected new leadership in Local 135.
The same problems inspired fed up nonunion Sysco drivers in Louisville to join Teamsters Local 89.
“While I was a Sysco driver, my coworkers and I in Indianapolis made videos encouraging the Sysco drivers in Louisville to vote yes. Then we went up to Louisville to sit in on their proposals meetings,” said Local 135 Business Agent Tim Courtney.
Later, members from Local 135 drove from Indianapolis to Louisville to sit shoulder to shoulder at Local 89’s contract negotiations. Local 89 Teamsters joined contract negotiations in Indianapolis.
“Sysco saw us working together and made every effort to divide us,” Courtney said. “Sysco offered Louisville a good offer but held out on us. Then when management made us a good offer, they lowballed Louisville. When management wouldn’t budge, we took it to the streets together.”
More than 300 Teamsters put up picket lines and shut down Sysco’s operations to thousands of customers in major corporate chains, jails, hospitals, and assisted living facilities.
After two weeks, the company gave in. Members in both locals won major increases and additional vacation.
Sysco Teamsters in Louisville also won affordable healthcare and real retirement benefits they did not have before they became Teamsters.
Uniting to Fight Back
Sysco Teamsters across the country deal with the same problems of forced overtime, changing routes and schedules, and persistent safety violations, like the 18-inch rule, which puts drivers at risk as they unload overstuffed trucks.
Now, rank-and-file Teamsters at Sysco are sharing strategies to take on contract violations and harassment.
Sysco and grocery Teamsters across the industry are building a rank-and-file network to share strategies for taking on contract violations and harassment.
Are you a Sysco or grocery Teamster? Contact TDU at 313-842-2600 to get in touch with other stewards and active Teamsters, get connected on a webinar, and share contract enforcement ideas.
From 0 to 100 Percent in Louisville
Last year, none of the two hundred Sysco drivers, warehouse workers, and office workers in Louisville were represented by a union. Now, they all are!
Facing low wages for their long hours of work, drivers got in touch with Local 89 and began organizing to win union representation. When they struck and won a good contract, the other workers at their facility were inspired to organize too.
On October 13, 2023, the warehouse workers and finance workers won an election by over 90 percent.
The newest Local 89 Teamsters of Sysco are negotiating their first contract.
When Teamsters fight and win strong contracts, other workers take note, stand up, and join the union too.
Taking Back What We've Earned
"In my 29 years, we had never been on strike before. Our old union officials used to tell us, ‘This is the best you can get.’ Sysco has taken so much from us."
"Well, not anymore."
Danny Edwards, Local 135