Gourmet Cheesemakers in Flatiron District Vote to Join Teamsters Union
Workers at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese Want Better Pay, Healthcare, and Stability
Workers at Beecher’s Handmade Cheese, in the Flatiron District, voted yesterday to join Teamsters Local 553 in a union election overseen by the National Labor Relations Board. The 24 cheesemakers, lead cheesemakers, and maintenance employees will now negotiate a union contract with their employer, and hope to raise wages and improve health coverage.
“We love the work we do, but need this to be a good job too,” said Riley Peters, a cheesemaker at Beecher’s. “When you gain experience and take on new responsibilities, your wage should reflect that. That is one of the things we want to address in our union contract. We are proud that Beecher’s cheese will be union cheese going forward.”
Beecher’s workers began their campaign for a union in September, in partnership with the Teamsters. After distributing fliers and organizing with their coworkers, they signed union authorization cards and petitioned for a government supervised election. The vote was 14-6.
“This is a moment when workers across the country know they have to band together to protect themselves,” said Michael Gatto, Recording Secretary at Local 553 and lead organizer on the campaign. Teamsters Local 553 represents over 4.000 workers in the New York City region, including dairy workers.
“I commend the Beecher’s workers for standing up for themselves. We look forward to productive negotiations with the company to reach a fair agreement,” Gatto continued.
Beecher’s Handmade Cheese is a Seattle-based company that makes artisanal cheeses. Its New York location opened on Broadway in 2011.
“The company understood we were serious and didn’t interfere with a fair vote about whether to form a union,” said Peters. “With our new union, we will work with Beecher’s to create family-supporting jobs.”