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Teamsters win 82-day strike at Clare Rose, Long Island’s largest beer distributor

(Source: International Brotherhood of Teamsters press release, July 14, 2017)

GREAT NECK, N.Y. — Teamsters Local 812 and Clare Rose, the Anheuser-Busch distributor for Long Island, announced a tentative contract late Thursday, covering drivers and warehouse workers who have been on strike since April 23.

The contract guarantees that Clare Rose will continue contributions to the workers’ pension plan, reversing the company’s withdrawal from the pension that precipitated the strike. It also maintains wages that are well above industry standards and Clare Rose’s April offer. The agreement ends the strike after 82 days in which none of the 130 union members crossed the picket line. Members will vote to ratify the agreement Saturday.

“We are all thrilled,” said Mark Pooler, who has been a driver at Clare Rose for 26 years. “We won and we saved our pensions. Now we are ready to get back to work.”

The workers received an outpouring of support from their Long Island neighbors over the nearly three month strike. Over three dozen local bars, stores, and restaurants boycotted Clare Rose, including Belmont Park and Anthony’s. Thousands of Long Islanders signed petitions, posted their support on Facebook, and put boycott signs on their lawns.

“This strike captured the imagination of Long Island workers who want to see a win for working people,” said Ed Weber, President of Teamsters Local 812. “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.”

“We are pleased to reach this agreement with Clare Rose that preserves our pension, provides fair wages under a new sales model, and gets our members back to work,” Weber said.

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 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 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."

In May, the union succeed in getting the Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency to audit Clare Rose, which could have cost the company millions of dollars in past and future tax credits.

Teamster allies ensured that the strike followed Clare Rose beyond Long Island. While Clare Rose and its partners participated in industry conventions and parties in DC, union activists protested outside and shined the light on the company’s unlawful activities. The union also took advantage of holidays, from Mother’s Day and Memorial to Pride Month and the 4th of July, to advance the strike.

Strikers received widespread support from elected officials as they called for Clare Rose to return to the table and bargain with the union, including from Congressman Tom Suozzi and State Senator Todd Kaminsky. The entire Long Island labor movement also closed ranks behind the Teamsters, with daily visits to the picket line and donations from members of numerous other unions.

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.

Friday, July 14, 2017

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