Massachusetts Police Arrest As Many As 20 Striking Truckers After Blocking Plant Exits

by Lauren Boisvert
(Photo by Ian McDonnell/Getty Images)

On Monday, Oct. 17, striking truckers used their tractor-trailers to block the exits to Plympton, Massachusetts’ Sysco facility. About 100 employees were kept from leaving the facility because of the blockages. The act resulted in upwards of 20 arrests.

More than 400 Teamsters union truck drivers arrived at the food distribution facility in the early morning, preventing some employees from leaving. Police spent about 2 hours negotiating with the picketers, according to a report from AP News.

“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,” said Police Chief Matthew Ahl in a statement. According to the police report, about 20 people face charges including disorderly conduct and assault and battery.

The strike began on Oct. 1 when 300 Sysco truckers represented by Teamsters Local 653 started their strike for better pay and benefits. According to a representative from Sysco, the company is looking to reach a “competitive labor agreement” with the union.

“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,” Sysco said in a statement. “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.”

According to AP News, employees at another Sysco facility in Syracuse, New York were recently on strike as well. The company and the union reached an agreement last week.

Sysco Truckers Arrested During Strike in Massachusetts, While California Truckers Protested This Past July

Truckers in California started protesting this past July fighting the labor law Assembly Bill 5. The hundreds of independent truckers shut down the Port of Oakland with their protest three days in a row. They blocked gates and held up other truckers trying to bring their cargo in and out of the port.

Assembly Bill 5, which was approved by the Governor of California in 2019, set stricter standards for contract employees. It changed the way independent contractors are classified, and these truckers argued that it would cut their pay and set hefty costs on their shoulders.

The protests and picket line caused many backups at the port, causing supply chain delays and cargo ship congestion. The organizers of the protests said they would continue until California Governor Gavin Newsom met with them. The group also protested at seaports in Los Angeles and Long Beach.

As of October, there are no additional updates on the protests, and if the Governor actually spoke with the irate truckers.