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As Anheuser-Busch Signs NYC Teamsters Contract, Long Island Workers Ask “What about us?”

Anheuser-Busch agrees to wage increases and recommits to pension in NYC – while workers who deliver Anheuser-Busch on Long Island strike over cuts

 The workers who deliver Anheuser-Busch beers to Manhattan, Queens, the Bronx, and Staten Island approved a new union contract in a near-unanimous vote yesterday. Anheuser-Busch agreed to continue the workers’ Teamsters Local 812 pension plan, as well as generous raises of up to 8% annually.

Local 812 member in the Bronx celebrates contract win

The scene in the Bronx could not be more different than on Long Island, where the workers who deliver Anheuser-Busch products for local distributor Clare Rose have been on strike for more than a month. Clare Rose unilaterally ended the workers’ pension and cut drivers’ wages by 30%.

“We appreciate the amicable negotiations and fair contract we reached with Anheuser-Busch covering New York City workers,” said Ed Weber, President of Teamsters Local 812. “Now we need Anheuser-Busch to focus on bringing Clare Rose back to the bargaining table. If a pension and fair wages are good enough for Anheuser-Busch’s New York City workers, then they should be good enough for the workers who deliver Anheuser-Busch in Long Island too.”

“Profitable companies should share their profits with the workers who make them successful,” said Ray Vogt, a Teamsters Local 812 member and shop steward at Anheuser-Busch in the Bronx. “All Anheuser-Busch delivery workers deserve a fair contract and we stand fully behind our union brothers at Clare Rose.”

The union negotiated with Clare Rose for months without progress before 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 them letters saying they were being permanently replaced and directing them to the National Right to Work Defense Fund for assistance quitting the union.

“Anheuser-Busch did right by its New York City workers, but what about us?” asked Mark Pooler, a driver with 26 years at Clare Rose. “Clare Rose is trying to destroy middle-class jobs and bust this union. Everyone is asking, ‘where is Anheuser-Busch?’”

Long Island businesses are hanging Anheuser-Busch boycott signs

Clare Rose’s heavy-handed tactics have tarnished the Anheuser-Busch brand on Long Island. More than three dozen Clare Rose customers announced a boycott of the company last week, citing the company’s abuse of workers. They are hanging signs in their bars and stores reading “No Anheuser-Busch Sold Here Until Clare Rose Strike Ends.”

Last week, the Brookhaven IDA confirmed that it is opening an audit of Clare Rose. The company has received over a million dollars in tax breaks from the IDA, but is required to maintain employment levels in exchange. Clare Rose’s decision to fire its union workforce likely puts the company in violation and the IDA can revoke future subsidies and even demand repayment of past subsidies.

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.