July 15, 2017
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – Members of Teamsters Local 812 who have been on strike against Clare Rose, the Anheuser-Busch beer distributor in Long Island, today reached a tentative contract agreement that covers drivers and warehouse workers for the company.
The workers had been on strike against the distributor since April 23rd, as a result of the termination of the pension plan and a slashing of wages. In April, after months of negotiations, the highly-profitable company imposed the huge wage and benefits cuts, causing the strike. After workers had been on strike less than one day, the company sent letters saying workers were being permanently replaced and directing them to the National Right to Work Defense Fund for assistance quitting the union.
The contract guarantees that Clare Rose will continue contributions to the workers’ pension plan, reversing its withdrawal, and that it will maintain wages well above industry standards and what Clare Rose offered in April.
The union will vote on the contract on Saturday, July 15th, and Teamsters Local 812 President Ed Weber says that everyone seems to be in favor of it. If the measure passes the roughly 130 workers will return to their jobs on Monday. “We are pleased to reach this agreement with Clare Rose that preserves our pension and fair wages under a new sales model,” said Weber. “We are all happy that the guys are going back to work. It was a hard battle but our guys stood strong on the issue. They didn’t waver at all, nobody crossed the picket line, and we got the deal done.”
Support for the workers had ranged from local business owners boycotting Anheuser-Busch products to Belmont Park and chain store Anthony’s Coal Fired Pizza also no longer carrying the products. In total, over three dozen businesses chose to boycott. Thousands of Long Island residents signed petitions, posted their support on social media and put boycott signs on their lawns. Additionally, Congressman Tom Suozzi, and State Senator Todd Kaminsky voiced their support of the strikers. On top of that, the Brookhaven IDA opened an audit into Clare Rose, which had received over a million dollars in tax credits, contingent on its maintaining employment levels. With its violation, its subsidies could have ended, and it may even have had to repay past subsidies.
The Teamsters put forward a multifaceted campaign to win the strike. The union made a six-figure ad buy in key Long Island news outlets, promoting the boycott and linking Anheuser-Busch to the abuses at Clare Rose. It also promoted Long Island businesses that supported the boycott and knocked those that continued to buy from Clare Rose.
“I know every Teamster in New York is cheering the Clare Rose workers and their big win today,” said George Miranda, President of Teamsters Joint Council 16, which represents 120,000 Teamsters in Greater New York. “When working families are under attack at the federal level, we showed that nothing can beat a united labor movement. Employers shouldn’t underestimate what workers are capable of.”
“This strike captured the imagination of Long Island workers who want to see a win for working people,” said Weber. “We don’t have to make concessions every time a company wants higher profits. I hope this is a sign of things to come. We can fight back and we can win.”
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.
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