Photo of the inaugural meeting of the Elite Task Force

Members Step Up To Show Solidarity

Elite Task Force brings members out to support each other against bad bosses

With companies like VWR picking up stakes and moving to Visalia after nearly 50 years in Burlingame with a Teamster contract, PrimeSource, signalling that they were unilaterally pulling out of the pension plan, and Loomis derecognizing the Teamsters after 40 years, Local 853 leadership knew that 2012 was going to be a particularly tough year. “Our business agents can only be in so many places at a time,” says Secretary-Treasurer Rome Aloise. “We need to be strategic and have a group of members who are ready, willing and able to join actions to support their fellow members.”

As a result, Local 853 launched its “Elite Task Force” in March and more than 100 members attended the first meeting.

“These are members who want to put in time to participate in whatever action we have against particular employers,” says Business Agent Efren Alarcon, who’s heading up the effort.

“Our first target was DBI,” he says. This beer distributor has been under contract for years but suddenly decided to institute a number of key takeaways in the new contract. “The Task Force came out in force — at the St. Patrick’s Day Parade and at the Giant’s Season Opener. The company quickly responded by giving us the kind of contract we were looking for.”

The Task Force’s next target was Sysco, a company that has run a nasty antiunion campaign, and its distributor, Sygma, that distributes to Texas Road House Restaurants. Local 853 has a contract with Sysco in Fremont and Local 137 has one at their facility near Sacramento. But, the Teamsters has faced numerous anti-union tactics in its effort to organize Sysco drivers in Fresno and Modesto.

Elite Task Force volunteers leaflet at Texas Roadhouse

Texas Road House has 300 restaurants around the country, but only six in Northern California. The Task Force targeted the Fairfield, Union City and Tracy restaurants, and asked Local 150 to help with the Elk Grove location. “We went out for eight Friday and Saturday nights starting in April and handed out leaflets that talk about the health inspection violations — roaches, mold and flies — racked up by Texas Road House restaurants,” says Alarcon. The leaflet says, “If this sounds disgusting to you, then it should be no surprise that Texas Road House’s food supplier is Sygma, a division of Sysco, where workers are being treated in a way that’ll turn your stomach.” The Task Force’s goal is to let customers know how this company treats the workers that service it.

The Task Force is currently compiling a database of times and days Local 853 members are available to support the Teamsters and their union sisters and brothers. “If we have a large enough group, we’ll only need to call on folks occasionally,” says Alarcon. “It can be a lot of fun. We expect that people will soon start calling on us for more opportunities to get out and leaflet.”

If you’d like to join the Task Force and stand up for your fellow union members, contact Efren at ealarcon@teamsters853.org.