PLYMPTON, Mass. (AP) — Striking truckers used tractor-trailers to block the exits at New England’s largest wholesale food distributor Monday and prevented some employees from leaving, resulting in as many as 20 arrests, police said.
More than 400 Teamster union members arrived at the Sysco facility in Plympton, Massachusetts, in the early morning and stopped about 100 employees from leaving, Police Chief Matthew Ahl said in a statement.
Police spent two hours negotiating with picketers.
“After the attempted negotiation to move union members out of the roadway to create a safe passable environment, unfortunately we had to respond by removing members of the crowd who were inciting a hostile picket line,” the chief said.
Sixteen to 20 people were arrested on charges including disorderly conduct and assault and battery, he said. After the arrests, traffic started to flow safely.
About 300 Sysco drivers represented by the Teamsters Local 653 started their strike Oct. 1 seeking better pay and benefits. Voicemails seeking comment were left with union representatives.
Houston-based Sysco, which has distribution facilities across the country, supplies food to schools, hospitals, nursing homes and restaurants.
A Sysco spokesperson said in a statement Monday that the company remains committed to reaching a “competitive labor agreement” with Local 653.
“While we are disappointed in the Teamsters leadership’s ongoing decision to have our employees out on strike without letting them vote, we respect their right to do so under the law,” the company said. “What we can’t respect is violence, disorderly conduct, intimidation, or threats, on or off the strike line, targeting our employees, vendors, customers, or the public.”
The Sysco warehouse in Plympton, south of Boston, is still operating with third-party drivers. The facility stocks about 13,000 products, according to the company’s website.
Sysco employees at a company facility near Syracuse, New York, had also been on strike, but the sides reached an agreement last week.