Community, Customers Show Support For U.S. Foodservice Workers

Jun 07, 2010, 15:41 ET from Teamsters Local 722

Community Puts Up Yard Signs, Signs Petition for a Fair Contract

STREATOR, Ill., June 7 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- After another tense negotiating session this week, U.S. Foodservice workers in Streator, Ill., spent the weekend visiting customers of U.S. Foodservice and community members to enlist their support and avoid a large-scale service disruption to area restaurants.

Customers and community members put up yard signs that say "I [heart] U.S. Foodservice Teamsters" and signed onto an Appeal for Fairness calling on U.S. Foodservice to bargain in good faith and provide a fair contract to their employees.

"The workers at U.S. Foodservice provide excellent service to our restaurant and I expect U.S. Foodservice to treat them with respect," said Jim Lambert the owner of Buster's Family Restaurant in Streator.

The members, who are represented by Teamsters Local 722 in La Salle, Ill., have been working without a contract since May 9 and have attempted to bargain in good faith with the U.S. Foodservice without success.

The company could lock out workers or force a strike at any moment. U.S. Foodservice wants to impose dozens of changes to the current contract including the creation of a discriminatory pay system, the erosion of healthcare benefits, and the reduction of recall rights for laid-off workers. The company has refused to provide the union with information to substantiate the need for such drastic changes.

"We feel really disrespected at the negotiating table," said Dan Austin, a U.S. Foodservice Driver for 32 years and member of the union negotiating team. "We understand that it's a tough economy and we want U.S. Foodservice to grow and succeed, but they are trying to take away basic rights and lower standards in the entire region. That's not right and U.S. Foodservice workers and this community won't let that happen."

U.S. Foodservice is one of the largest employers in Streator. The company serves schools, universities, hospitals, nursing homes, prisons, and restaurants in Illinois and surrounding states. U.S. Foodservice, based in Rosemont, Ill., is owned by private equity firms Kohlberg, Kravis Roberts & Co. (KKR) and Clayton Dubilier & Rice, Inc. (CD&R), and is one of the largest food distributors in the United States.

Local 722 represents warehouse workers, drivers, and construction workers in central Illinois. It is affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, founded in 1903, with over 1.4 million members in the U.S., Canada, and Puerto Rico.

SOURCE Teamsters Local 722