May 23, 2017
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – Small businesses on Long Island are joining strikers against Clare Rose, the sole distributor of Anheuser-Busch products and craft beers such as Blue Point and Greenport, by boycotting the company, refusing deliveries and displaying boycott signs in their store windows.
Workers have been on strike since April 23rd, when Clare Rose cut drivers’ salaries by 30% and ended the workers’ pension, despite receiving tax breaks of over one million dollars from local municipalities. Now, the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency (IDA), which awarded the tax breaks, has announced that it is opening an audit of Clare Rose. A requirement of the tax breaks was that the company would maintain employment levels. A request from the town supervisor for a midyear audit of employment levels at Clare Rose will determine if the distributor is still eligible for the IDA tax breaks. The IDA could revoke future subsidies and demand repayment of past subsidies if it is determined that Clare Rose is in violation of the requirements.
Clare Rose has brought replacement workers in from out-of-state and has notified both the union and the workers that they would face permanent replacement. Local businesses are not playing along. “Our business is boycotting Clare Rose until the strike ends,” said Jon Cusano of Brownstone Brewing Company. “We need to support these middle-class families so they can have fair wages and decent pensions.” Even if some wanted to sell Anheuser-Busch products, they are hampered by the failure of Clare Rose to make many deliveries. “I am losing business,” said Sultan Qurashi of Sultan’s Lucky Corner in Massapequa. “Clare Rose never answers my calls anymore and when the driver finally shows up, it is not the product that I ordered. If I have no Bud, customers will go somewhere else. I have to buy other products instead. I’ve also complained directly to Anheuser-Busch.”
Months of attempted negotiations with Clare Rose by the union were unproductive, and were followed by the company slashing wages and benefits, although it is highly profitable. Teamsters Local 812 filed a new Unfair Labor Practice Charge before NLRP against Clare Rose in early May, alleging bad faith bargaining and attempts to undermine the workers’ labor rights. Previous charges accused Clare Rose of threatening union members and unlawfully reducing wages and ending benefit programs. The union plans to maintain the strike until wages and benefits are restored, and bargaining in good faith resumes.