WASHINGTON, April 21, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Teamsters protested Sysco Corporation [NYSE: SYY] outside the International Foodservice Distributors Association's (IFDA) Washington Insight Conference on Capitol Hill today. Sysco is a member of the IFDA and is the largest foodservice distributor in America.
"We are here today because of Sysco's pattern of threatening workers, food producers and even its competitors," said Steve Vairma, Director of the Teamsters Warehouse Division.
The protestors carried banners and signs that said, "Sysco: Take Bullying off the Menu" and "Sysco: A Bully to Workers and Competitors."
In Atlanta, 400 workers at Sysco voted to join Teamsters Local 528 in 2014 in order to gain a voice on the job and protest worker abuse. Sysco unilaterally changed workers' pay, and some workers lost up to $20,000 per year as a result. Sysco also fired 15 workers who protested abuses on the job and supported the union. Most recently, the company has hired a group of highly-paid union-busters to pressure workers during an ongoing organizing campaign in Grand Rapids, Mich.
The National Labor Relations Board recently announced it will prosecute Sysco for illegally terminating the Atlanta workers for union activity, for unilaterally decreasing workers' pay and changing work rules, and for illegally interrogating, threatening and surveilling workers.
Sysco is also in the middle of an antitrust lawsuit filed by the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) over its planned merger with fellow foodservice giant US Foods. The FTC has asked the U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia for a temporary injunction to stop the deal. The deal has been controversial because Sysco and US Foods are the only two foodservice distributors with a national footprint.
"The FTC and many of Sysco's customers and suppliers are rightfully concerned that a Sysco-US Foods merger will raise costs for people eating outside their homes," Vairma said. "Sysco has responded by subpoenaing financial documents, strategic plans, bids and other sensitive information from some of its competitors, all under the pretext of the antitrust lawsuit. Now these smaller foodservice companies have to spend time and money in court fighting the subpoenas."
In Sysco's bid to merge with US Foods, customers and producers sided with the FTC's move to block the merger. In testifying to the FTC, many requested their identities be sealed due to fear of retaliation by Sysco. One producer dared to go public and called Sysco a dangerous market predator that blocks market access to small producers and preys on communities.
"Sysco's competitors who are joining them at the IFDA meeting today should be concerned about Sysco's size and how it throws its weight around," Vairma said. "Their lobbyists may be walking over to Congress together, but they should remember that Sysco is a bully and will steamroll anyone and anything to get what it wants."
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 @SyscoUSFworkers and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/SyscoUSFworkers.
Kara Deniz, (202) 624-6911
SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters