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Labor Leaders Challenge Subsidies Awarded to Clare Rose

In letter to Brookhaven IDA, unions highlight job retention requirements, urge government to penalize Clare Rose

Labor leaders sent a letter to the Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency today, urging the agency to hold local Budweiser distributor Clare Rose accountable for violating the company’s subsidy agreement with the town. Clare Rose has received over a million dollars in property tax breaks from the Brookhaven IDA, but has violated the requirement that it maintain jobs at the facility built with public subsidies. The IDA has the power to deny Clare Rose future subsidies and recapture some subsidies already paid out.

The letter is signed by Teamsters Local 812 President Ed Weber, Teamsters Joint Council 16 President George Miranda, New York State AFL-CIO President Mario Cilento, and Long Island Federation of Labor President John Durso.

“The Brookhaven IDA board can and should hold the company accountable for job retention,” the letter reads. “Clare Rose has clearly violated the letter of the agreement, and it has blatantly violated the spirit. Every time an IDA awards property tax breaks to a company, it means less resources for our schools, roads, and other essential public services. The cost is justified with the promise of good jobs and economic development for local residents. Clare Rose’s attacks on its local workers break that promise.”

In 2009, Clare Rose entered a subsidies agreement with the Brookhaven IDA for the construction of a new facility for the beer distributor, which will reduce the company’s taxes through 2030. In 2016 alone, Clare Rose’s property taxes were reduced 86%, from $567,040 to $82,207.

In exchange, Clare Rose was required to maintain at least 177 jobs at the facility, a requirement that the company broke when it decided to permanently replace its union workers. If Clare Rose fails to meet those job retention requirements “at any time,” the Brookhaven IDA may declare all unpaid rent and other payments immediately due and payable; terminate the company’s lease; revise and increase the company’s annual payments; and recapture a portion of the forgone taxes previously given to Clare Rose.

Workers at Clare Rose have been on strike since April 23rd, when the company unilaterally cut drivers’ wages by 30% and ended the workers’ pension. On the first day of the strike, the company wrote to the union, and sent letters to union members personally, notifying them that they were being permanently replaced. On Monday, the company reiterated the decision in a Facebook post by Clare Rose CEO Sean Rose’s wife, Michelle McLaughlin Rose, that stated, “Clare Rose is hiring permanent warehouse men, permanent driver’s [sic], and summer helpers.”

More and more Long Island stores and bars have run out of Clare Rose products as the strike gains momentum. Clare Rose is the sole distributor of Budweiser, Bud Lite, Heineken, Pabst, Blue Point, Greenport, and several other craft beers for Long Island. It is headquartered in East Yaphank with an additional facility in Melville.

The union negotiated with Clare Rose for months without progress before the highly-profitable company imposed huge wage and benefits cuts. The union said the strike against the company’s illegal actions will last until Clare Rose executives withdraw their draconian demands and agree to a fair contract with workers.

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.