Forty-three members of Teamsters Local 743 voted unanimously on March 7 to ratify their first powerful contract at Peco Pallet on Chicago’s South Side.
The warehouse workers voted to join Local 743 in June 2016 and began contract negotiations last July. This month’s ratification was a hard-fought victory that showcased an infrequently contentious employer, eight months’ worth of meetings at the bargaining table and passionate labor actions where new Teamsters took it to the streets to stand up for their rights.
Active Local 743 members, Peco Pallet employees new to the union and throngs of labor allies rallied in front of the company’s plant in December 2016. The Teamsters found support from members of Local 551 of the United Auto Workers as well, working at a nearby Ford assembly plant. Peco Pallet workers wore union T-shirts on the job regularly and signed a letter to billionaire venture capitalist JB Pritzker — one of Peco Pallet’s owners — serving notice that employees deserved a fair contract.
“The tenacity and unity exhibited by the hardworking employees of Peco Pallet are inspiring qualities for any group of workers — and the Teamsters couldn’t be prouder to include these men and women in our ranks,” said John T. Coli, President of Teamsters Joint Council 25. “The entire union congratulates the members of Local 743 for securing a contract that honors their sacrifice, their labor and, above all, their humanity.”
The men and women of Peco Pallet decided to join the Teamsters after the company failed to respond to employees’ concerns about unfair performance appraisal-based pay increases, exploitative use of temporary workers, a refusal by management to post vacant positions and an overall top-down disregard for workers’ health and safety. The newly ratified Local 743 agreement provides workers with annual across-the-board wage increases, seniority rights, proper posting of vacancies, just cause discipline and various health and safety protections.
Peco Pallet employees Joe Nauracy, Danny Sanchez, Valentine Miranda and Derrick Rudd served on the Local 743 Bargaining Committee for the unit, alongside Local 743 Union Representative Jarvis Gutter and Vice President Catharine Schutzius. The bargaining team kept all workers inside the plant well-informed about dates for negotiations and progress toward an agreement throughout the entire contract fight.
Teamsters Local 743 is an affiliate of Teamsters Joint Council 25, America’s premier labor union for Chicago, Illinois and northwest Indiana.