May 28, 2017
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – As drivers and warehouse workers at Long Island beer distributor Clare Rose continue their one-month long strike, shortages of Anheuser-Busch products are expected on Memorial Day weekend, traditionally the second biggest beer-buying weekend of the year.
Members of Teamsters Local 812, which represents more than 3,500 Teamster families working in the beverage industry, went on strike on April 23rd, after Clare Rose illegally cut drivers’ wages by 30% and ended the workers’ pension. Out-of-state workers have permanently replaced Clare Rose’s Long Island workforce, despite boycotts and support for the strikers by local businesses, and the threat of a tax audit by the Brookhaven IDA that may end subsidies the distributor receives, and even force the repayment of previous subsidies.
Budweiser, Bud Light, Heineken, Blue Point, and other beers will likely be in short supply, as the replacement workers have been unable to complete deliveries. Local businesses have placed signs in their windows supporting the strikers, and the workers have visited businesses, explaining their position and asking for support. More than three dozen Clare Rose customers have boycotted the company, some refusing the deliveries that do get through.
“Our business is boycotting Clare Rose until the strike ends,” said Jon Cusano of Brownstone Brewing Company in Ronkonkoma. “We need to support these middle-class families so they can have fair wages and decent pensions.”
“As business owners, we all have a moral obligation to take care of the people who take care of us,” said Frank Girgenti, owner of My Butcher and Deli in Wading River. “In the pursuit of wealth, Clare Rose has lost sight of what’s truly important. You really can’t put a price on hard working, loyal employees. This is evident when you see the utter disaster caused by hiring these temporary workers. The men and women of Local 812 have my full support and I hope they win the battle against corporate greed!”
The union attempted negotiations with Clare Rose for months, without acceptable results. The union says the strike will continue until Clare Rose restores wages and benefits and bargains in good faith.
Meanwhile, support for the strikers has surfaced internationally. The Electrical Trades Union of Australia, Victorian Branch, announced via Facebook on May 23rd, that they stand in solidarity with the Teamsters Local 812, and that workers at a Melbourne construction job will be boycotting Budweiser and Bud Light.
Mark Pooler, a driver for 26 years with Clare Rose, offered an alternative. “If Clare Rose cares about its customers, it will restore our wages and pensions and bring us back to work. Loyal Budweiser customers are going to have to do the unthinkable on Memorial Day: drink Miller. Clare Rose and Anheuser-Busch better hope they don’t learn to like it.”