(Dec. 19) CHICAGO — A foodservice unit of Richmond, Va.-based Performance Food Group Co. has found itself in the sights of the Teamsters union.

The Chicago-based union Dec. 12 called for expansion of a regional boycott of restaurant chains Ruby Tuesday Inc., Outback Steakhouse Inc. and Cracker Barrel because of those chains’ support of Performance unit PFG Customized Services, a supplier that the union claims is treating union workers unfairly.

The union accuses PFG Customized Services of locking out union drivers from their jobs at an Elkton, Md., distribution facility Oct. 29. The union had been boycotting the chains’ units in Northeast and Mid-Atlantic states in the immediate wake of the lockout. Now, the call is for a national boycott.

As a result, the locked-out drivers and union backers will be picketing the restaurants in coming weeks, the Teamsters said in a news release.

“We’re obviously hopeful to have a resolution to the labor issue, but it’s not something that we’re interested in doing through the media,” said John Austin, vice president of finance for Performance Food Group.

Austin declined to comment on the nature of the dispute, but he did say that it concerned only drivers at the Maryland facility.

Austin questioned the strategy of targeting the restaurants.

“I think it’s unfortunate that the union has decided to try to bring our customers into it,” he said. “I think each of our customers has appropriately stated that they’re really not a party to the issue.”

Rick Johnson, Ruby Tuesday’s senior vice president, who emphasized that the dispute remains between PFG and the union, told the Reuters news service that the chain would not be affected.