Teamsters drop lawsuit blocking sale of Strack & Van Til parent company

The reopening celebration at the remodeled Strack and Van Til store on US 30 in Valparaiso this January. The Teamsters have dropped a lawsuit barring the sale of Strack & Van Til's parent company.

The Times

The International Brotherhood Teamsters Local 703 dropped a lawsuit attempting to block Strack & Van Til parent company Central Grocers from a sale.

The Downers Grove-based union had sought to protect the jobs of 300 workers at Central Grocers' warehouse in Joliet, and got the reassurances it wanted.

Local 703 said in a press release Thursday it reached an understanding with the $2 billion Joliet-based wholesaler, which supplies Strack & Van Til and 400 independent grocers throughout the Chicago market, about what impact a sale would have on its members.

"Withdrawing our original action at this time is in the best interest of the union and our membership," Local 703 Secretary-Treasurer Thomas W. Stiede said. "Preserving our strong labor agreements in the grocery industry is paramount. The Teamsters will continue to work to gather information in the effort to protect members and prepare for what the future may hold."

The Teamsters filed a lawsuit in federal court last week asking for a temporary restraining order on a sale, for fear it would violate its labor contract that runs through next March. The company hadn't given it any information about the buyer.

"Local 703 now has agreed to withdraw the action, without prejudice to re-filing, in exchange for certain assurances from Central Grocers regarding a potential transaction and receipt of certain confidential information that will allow the Teamsters to better assess the transaction and its potential impact on the labor contracts and members," the union said in a press release.

Central Grocers is looking to sell off 22 Strack & Van Til stores to a yet-unidentified buyer. The Highland-based supermarket, which has been owned by Central Grocers since the late 1990s, is closing 14 stores this year, mostly Ultra Fresh Foods and Strack & Van Til-branded stores in Illinois.

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Joseph S. Pete is a Lisagor Award-winning business reporter who covers steel, industry, unions, the ports, retail, banking and more. The Indiana University grad has been with The Times since 2013 and blogs about craft beer, culture and the military.