Teamsters at Sysco take some time to relax after a hard-fought win.

At Sysco, Teamster grit and dogged determination has led to a major win for the union.

More than a hundred Local 117 warehousers employed at the food service giant have received a total of $43 thousand in backpay thanks to a settlement agreement signed last month.

The case arose after Sysco denied our members their contractual 40-hour guarantee in the first weeks of the pandemic. Union rep John Howell Jr. filed a grievance and he, along with shop stewards Rowan Griffin and Will Buff, went to work.

The odds were stacked against them as arbitrators were ruling in favor of the employer in similar cases. Employers argued that the pandemic was an “act of God” that somehow gave them the ability to run roughshod over their contractual obligations. In some cases, the argument was sticking.

“We knew it’d be tough, but we never stopped. We just kept pushing it,” Howell said.

With perseverance and over a year negotiating with the company, our union team was able to achieve an excellent result.

“We were able to get a win for our membership where other places have fallen short,” Buff said. “It shows you the power of Local 117 working with the membership and how we can achieve strategic wins when we work together.”

The backpay award at Sysco comes on the heels of two other grievance wins there that generated 350 hours of vacation pay, 30 hours of straight time pay, and 50 hours of overtime pay for our members.

“People wonder about the union difference, and this is it,” said Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy. “In a non-union universe, there are no contractual guarantees, and no one is there to stand up for you when your rights are violated. This is a solid win for Teamsters at Sysco and another reminder of the benefit of having a strong union.”