WASHINGTON, May 20, 2016 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Teamsters working at US Foods facilities across the country are ramping up actions against the nation's second-largest food service provider, building off the efforts of fellow Teamsters in Severn, Md. who began an unfair labor practice strike against the company on April 27.
Over 200 Teamsters walked off the job in Phoenix yesterday to protest the company's refusal to review and correct the paychecks of workers who believe they are being overcharged for health insurance [Video of the action here]. US Foods has been asked repeatedly, yet refuses to review and correct the problem.
Meanwhile, more than 700 Teamsters at three US Foods distribution centers in Michigan, Washington and Colorado honored picket lines extended by the striking Maryland Teamsters. The walkout was the second for the Michigan workers and the first for those in Washington and Colorado.
Similar pickets have been held this month across Southern California, as well as in West Seneca, N.Y., Twinsburg, Ohio and Phoenix. In all, more than 1,700 Teamsters working at U.S. Foods have either gone out on strike or honored their picket lines in the last month. The Severn workers are on strike to protest allegations that US Foods violated federal law that protects workers' rights.
Steve Vairma, Teamsters International Vice President and Director of the Teamsters' Warehouse Division, said, "We have seen a pattern of abusive behavior by US Foods for years. It's no surprise that their workers have no choice but to go on unfair labor practice strikes to protest how they are being treated. US Foods is willing to destroy good jobs and local economies so that its private equity owners KKR and CD&R can wring every last penny out of the company before they try to sell it. I'm proud of our members who are standing up for their rights and of our brothers and sisters who are honoring their picket lines. Teamsters know that an injury to one is an injury to all."
The current labor disputes are not new to US Foods. In February, more than 200 Teamsters at the Phoenix facility went on a four-day unfair labor practice strike. In 2011, an unfair labor practice strike by maintenance employees in Streator was extended to more than 10 US foods facilities across America. More than 2,000 Teamsters honored extended picket lines during the 2011 strike.
US Foods is owned by Wall Street private equity behemoths KKR and CD&R, which added nearly $5 billion of debt to US Foods' books when they bought it in 2007. US Foods announced its IPO in February, trying to raise up to $1.2 billion from investors so KKR and CD&R can get rid of the company.
In January 2016, KKR and CD&R took nearly $670 million in cash out of the company to distribute to its two owners – half of it borrowed – even though it is already operating under a mountain of debt. Since its purchase by the two private equity firms nine years ago, US Foods has engaged in a systematic campaign of harassment and intimidation against its workers, both union and non-union.
The company earned $23 billion in annual revenue in 2014. US Foods provides 350,000 products and services to 200,000 customers including restaurants, hospitals, schools, military bases and hotels. US Foods has 25,000 employees and 75 distribution facilities. The Teamsters represent 4,300 US Foods employees, with 44 contracts at 29 facilities.
Founded in 1903, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and "like" us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.
Contact: Ted Gotsch, (202) 624-6911
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SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters