Close to 175 workers at a Sysco warehouse in Ottawa voted to join Teamsters Local Union 91 by a resounding 72% yesterday. This significant victory marks the conclusion of a hard-fought, one-month organizing campaign by workers and is a testament to the power of collective action.
This comes after Sysco workers at another warehouse in British Columbia voted to join the Teamsters a few days ago. Thousands of Sysco workers across Canada and the United States are already represented by the Teamsters.
At the heart of the organizing drive were two critical issues: union protection and securing fair wage increases. There is currently a wage disparity between Sysco workers in Ottawa and those in Toronto. The latter, already represented by the Teamsters, receive $6 to $7 more per hour depending on their job classification. Voting to unionize was a crucial step towards rectifying this imbalance.
“We are incredibly proud to welcome our new brothers and sisters from Sysco into the Teamsters. This victory reaffirms the power of solidarity and collective action to bring about change. As we move forward, we promise to continue fighting for the rights of all workers, upholding the principles of equity, respect, and dignity in the workplace,” said François Laporte, President of Teamsters Canada.
Rank and file organizers put in tireless hours, often standing outside the warehouse at offbeat times, even as late as 2 a.m., in their commitment to making workers’ voices heard.
One of the key components of this campaign was the creative approach to card signing. While workers were invited to sign a union membership card online, large, illuminated signs displaying a simple URL were installed in front of the warehouse also made it easy for workers to know how to join.
Recognizing the diverse nature of the workplace was another important part of the organizing drive. The warehouse includes a significant Haitian population, so the Local Union 91 took extra steps to ensure all campaign literature was available in both English and French.
Throughout the campaign, the solidarity displayed by other Teamster members in the area was heartwarming. Drivers from the nearby UPS and Purolator depots and various other Teamster companies would often show their support by stopping or honking as they drove by. This show of unity, camaraderie, and support was a significant morale booster for the Sysco workers.
“I am so proud of everyone’s efforts. This victory signifies a new dawn for Sysco workers in Ottawa, paving the way for improved working conditions, better wages, and stronger, united workers,” said Brian MacDonald, President of Teamsters Local Union 91. “Together, we are stronger. Together, we are Teamsters.”