Thursday, October 5, 2000
Steamboat Springs Some of Steamboat's leading restaurateurs were keeping an eye on a contract vote Thursday night involving food purveyor Nobel/Sysco and some of its employees.
Warehouse workers and drivers at Nobel/Sysco Food Services approved a new contract Thursday, a day after negotiators reached an agreement with the company, the Associated Press reported Thursday evening.
The 450 employees, members of Teamsters Local 435, rejected an initial contract offer Oct. 1.
Details of the new contract were not available, but the issues were wages, health care benefits and pension increases.
Nobel/Sysco is a subsidiary of SYSCO, the nation's largest food distributor. In Colorado, the company serves restaurants, school districts, hospitals and other large facilities.
Most of Steamboat's restaurants depend upon Nobel/Sysco as well as competitor Alliant for everything from the maraschino cherries that go in your Shirley Temple, to the portabella mushrooms on your favorite burger. Many restaurants also do business locally with Steamboat Meat and Seafood Company for specialty items. However, restaurants and institutions like Yampa Valley Medical Center depend upon one of the two big purveyors to deliver most of the food they put on their guests' tables.
Morton Hoj, owner of the Steamboat Yacht Club said he depends entirely on Nobel/Sysco. Hoj said he's received assurances that he won't be left without the ingredients that go into his recipes.
"From what I understand, we do not have to worry too much," Hoj said. He explained he has been dealing with Nobel/Sysco for 20 years and has been assured that in the event of a strike, a truck will make deliveries to Steamboat and the five-person sales staff will make deliveries to their customers.
The Nobel/Sysco office in Steamboat could not be reached Thursday afternoon, but a corporate spokesperson for the company in Denver read a statement issued by Nobel/Sysco president Chris Dewitt.
"Last night our employee negotiating committee unanimously recommended our contract proposal," Dewitt said. ""The ratification vote is (Thursday night)." The Teamsters are asking for improved wage and benefit packages.
Hoj said he gets deliveries from Nobel/Sysco twice a week, but if a strike happens, October is about the least intrusive time of year for his business.
Karen Puffett, general manager of the Chart House in Steamboat said her restaurant received an order from Nobel/Sysco on Thursday along with assurances that trucks would continue to deliver. Puffett said her restaurant gets its food from both Alliant and Nobel/Sysco.
Mike Smith, who works for Alliant in Steamboat, said his company would be prepared to pick up much, but perhaps not all of the slack if Nobel/Sysco workers went on strike. He predicted in that event, some local restaurants would be buying food at the grocery store. But Smith doesn't think it will come to that.
"I think they're going to negotiate it out," Smith predicted.
Other Steamboat businesses and institutions that buy food on a wholesale basis were unconcerned about the Nobel/Sysco contract vote.
Christine McKelvie of Yampa Valley Medical Center said the hospital gets all of its food from Alliant. And Jeff Little at the Ore House at the Pine Grove said his restaurant began purchasing 95 percent of its food from Alliant about three months ago. Some of the balance, including buffalo steaks, comes from Steamboat Meat and Seafood.
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