PLYMPTON, MASS. (WHDH) - Sysco food service workers, who have been on strike since Saturday, confronted non-union truck drivers trying to enter the distribution center in Plympton early Monday morning.

Police monitored the demonstrators who blocked trucks for a few minutes as they entered and exited the distribution center, voicing their complaints about non-union drivers taking the food trucks out.

Demonstrators said they’ve been mistreated after several years of working hard during the pandemic.

“I’ve heard stories of people watching body bags getting brought out while they’re making deliveries with foods and essential goods,” Bryan Voci, Teamsters Local 653 Business Agent said. “It’s just, it’s crazy because two years ago they were heroes, you’re essential workers, you’re the most important people keeping this country running, and then how quickly these multi-million dollar companies forget about that.”

“The company, as a whole across the U.S. and Canada, profits $15 (billion) to $16 billion, not millions, but billions,” Chief Steward Trevor Ashley said. “That’s a lot of money. You can’t tell me there’s not money to give us decent health care, decent pensions through the Teamsters and better wages.”

Hundreds of workers began striking outside of the Sysco headquarters in Plympton at midnight on Oct. 1, after contract negotiations fell through. More than 300 workers walked off the job and went on strike after contract changes, including the removal of both union health insurance and union pension.

Plympton Police said that although the protests have been intense at times, there have been no injuries, acts of violence or arrests.

Police have worked out a system with the strikers: they’re allowed to stop trucks for two to five minutes to get their message across, but then have to let them go.

Sysco Boston released a statement saying the company respects and cares about its workers and the critical role they play. Sysco also said their offer to the workers included “substantial” wage increases of 25% over the life of the contract, and “more healthcare options at lower costs” than currently available.

“The work stoppage at Sysco Boston is unnecessary,” Sysco said. “Union leaders have taken this action with little regard for the damage it will cause to our associates and our customers.”

The trucks continued to enter and exit the distribution center in Plympton despite the disruptions, but the strike is starting to affect the ability for food to get to sites including restaurants, schools and hospitals.

“We’ve already gone through two years of problems, we don’t need a third, we don’t need another year of problems, we need to get back to business,” James Quirk of New England Steak & Seafood, said of the situation.

Quirk said he counts on Sysco’s deliveries twice a week, and doubts he will get the goods he needs.

“My biggest concern is if my Sysco delivery does not arrive,” he said. “And if it doesn’t, I already have it ready and placed with another vendor.”

One Fall River restaurant owner navigated the lack of deliveries another way: he drove to pick up his food order himself.

“It’s taken hours out of our day to come pick up our own food when we paid for the service for it to be delivered,” the owner said. “So this is throwing a huge monkey wrench in how we conduct our business.”

Sysco workers have also demonstrated in other parts of the country, including over 200 workers in Syracuse, New York who started to strike Sept. 27., and over 250 workers in Phoenix who started to strike in July.

Union members said they will strike until an agreement is reached over pay, pensions, and healthcare benefits.

(Copyright (c) 2024 Sunbeam Television. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Join our Newsletter for the latest news right to your inbox