New York, NY – Ed Weber, president of Local 812, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, recently presided over a big
win when Teamsters workers at Clare Rose, the Anheuser-Busch distributor on Long Island, voted to approve a new contract in July, after an 82-day strike.
Teamsters Local 812 represents more than 3,500 Teamster families working in the beverage industry. Its members produce, haul, deliver, merchandise, and sell soda, water, beer, and sports drinks throughout the New York Metropolitan area. The Clare Rose workers won their principal demand, saving their pensions. During the strike, none of the 130 workers crossed the picket line, despite being replaced by out-of-state workers, and having endured huge wage and benefits cuts. Despite the triumphant victory, Weber remains extremely modest about his contribution, and indeed, about his tenure in general, stressing to LaborPress that all gains were the result of collective effort.
Weber’s history with the Teamsters goes back decades. He has been a member for 44 years, beginning in 1973, when he started working for Coca-Cola as a trailer driver in what was to become the Haulers Department. “At the time, the Department didn’t exist,” he says. “They had outside workers doing the job – me and one other guy started the Department.” He worked, hauling soda, until 1989, when he worked for Coca-Cola in a warehouse in New Windsor, NY. In 1994, he became a shop steward, then, eventually, became a vending technician. In 2004, Weber was appointed business agent for Local 812. In 2006, he was elected a trustee, and in 2011, a recording secretary. Weber was elected president in 2012.
He’s proud of his involvement, which, he says, focusses on negotiating contracts, and handling grievances, but again, stresses that it’s a union effort. “We are there for members when they get in trouble – it’s a good system,” Weber says. He’s also chair of the Local 812 Health Fund.
Contract negotiations are many and ongoing. “We have a lot of soda companies and beer companies. We do negotiations every year – we had ten this year alone,” he says. “The Clare Rose strike set us back a few months, however.” During the Clare Rose strike, however, the union was able to negotiate successfully with Anheuser-Busch in the Bronx, for a contract Weber calls “very good.”
One thing Weber stresses, is the importance of the union’s work in supporting the middle-class. “Clare Rose was a strike we had that was a big win for the middle-class,” he says. And that work goes on with the support Local 812 extends to other unions fighting similar struggles. “We’re out here every day helping other unions with their fights and strikes,” he says.
Weber currently lives in Newburgh, NY. Married for 47 years, he has two children, Eddie, an attorney in NYC; and Michael, a 19-year Teamster who works at Coca-Cola. A middle child named Matthew, was also a Teamster who worked at Coca-Cola – but he was tragically killed in a motorcycle accident in 1998. One of Weber’s three grandchildren is named after him.
One of IBT Local 812’s greatest legacies, is its Scholarship Fund, which awards college scholarships to members’ children, who are nominated by a teacher. The Fund has awarded over $800,000 over the last decade.
Still more contract negotiations lie ahead for Weber, as well as an election. Despite his reluctance to self-promote, Weber’s wins are likely to speak for themselves.