A court has ruled that the Teamsters union can’t scuttle the sale of Will Poultry, a Buffalo food distributor.
The company had been looking for a buyer for three years when it finally found one. The sale agreement called for terminating all employees and allowing the new owner to determine which ones it would bring back. The new owner would not be obligated to honor the existing collective bargaining agreement or recognize the Teamsters union, which represented workers.
That didn’t sit well with Teamsters Local 264, which threatened to strike prior to the sale in hopes of derailing the agreement. Will Poultry sought and received an injunction preventing the union from striking.
The court reviewed the union contract and found that it did not contain a no-strike clause. However, it did require all grievances to be resolved through a mandatory arbitration procedure and that, pending arbitration, “neither party shall change conditions existing under” the contract.
Importantly, the contract lacked a “successors and assigns” clause dictating how ownership changes would be handled. As a result, the court ruled, the union has no say in how an asset sale such as this affects the workers.