In mail ballots counted Feb. 25, a unit of 53 Portland-area delivery drivers voted 30-18 to join the Teamsters. Employed by Operating Company LLC—a subsidiary of Safeway—they pick up groceries ordered online and deliver them to nearby homes in refrigerated box trucks.

The campaign began Sept. 30 with a shot in the dark by brand-new organizer Bobby Rispler on his first day on the job. drivers in Olympia and Seattle had joined the Teamsters and won a $2-an-hour raise, a “90-10” health insurance plan and a $1 an hour pension contribution. Rispler decided to talk to Portland-area drivers.

“Pardon me for intruding, but what’s the pay like?” he asked the first driver he saw. “Horrible!” the driver replied, adding, “We don’t have a union!”

Rispler gave his card to the driver.

Rispler had seen what a union could do in 18 years at UPS. He became a steward six years ago, and in September took an indefinite leave from UPS to attend a three-day union organizing school and become a full-time Teamsters organizer.