Wednesday, January 15, 2014
As with so many famous brands on supermarket shelves across Chicagoland, Teamsters Local 703 members are the heart and hands behind V&V Supremo, the quality independent line of Mexican-style cheeses, meats and sour creams.
Since 2001, Local 703 has represented more than 100 warehouse and production workers at the Chicago-based company. However, securing representation and workplace protections for the V&V employees was a tall order — one now that embodies Local 703’s commitment to working men and women and exemplifies the power workers can create by sticking together.
“About 30 V&V distribution workers reached out to the Teamsters in 2001, seeking to organize and establish their own collective bargaining rights,” said Tony Carioscia, Local 703 Trustee and Business Agent. “But the company wanted to do everything it could to keep its workers from joining the union. We soon found ourselves in a situation where V&V added more than 100 production workers to the unit of distributors, hoping to sway an election with individuals who weren’t originally looking for Teamster representation.”
The company’s plan to stack the deck against the union ultimately backfired. As more V&V workers joined the organizing campaign, more production and distribution employees began to recognize the benefits of having a Teamster contract. By the day of the election, the new unit voted nearly unanimously for Local 703 representation.
“Initially we set out to organize just 30 workers, but in the end wound up securing job security and representation for well over 100 employees,” Carioscia said.
Local 703 negotiated separate contracts with V&V management for the distribution and production units in the months that followed the organizing drive. A subsequent lockout, however, of production workers by the company delayed the enforcement of their respective agreement for two months.
The Teamsters filed unfair labor practice charges against V&V for preventing its employees from returning to work under the new contract. Even after the production unit resumed working, Local 703 pursued a settlement with the National Labor Relations Board on behalf of the workers, ultimately winning more than $170,000.00 from the company for wages lost during the two-month affair.
Following several separate contracts from 2001-2009, Local 703 negotiated and ratified a new five-year collective bargaining agreement for all V&V employees in 2010. This year marks the fourth year of the latest five-year deal, as workers continue to receive annual wage increases, fair and equitable benefits, and the protection of the Teamsters’ grievance procedure.
“Best of all, Local 703 members continue to proudly make and distribute V&V Supremo’s complete line of cheeses, chorizo, corn sopes and other delicious products,” said Carioscia, who helped bring representation to the company’s workforce with the assistance of Local 703 Trustee and Business Agent, Sam Scianna.
CLICK HERE to learn more about V&V Supremo and support Teamster-made food products.
Teamsters Local 703 is an affiliate of Teamsters Joint Council 25, America’s premier labor union for Chicago, Illinois and northwest Indiana.
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