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Strike Shuts Down Long Island Budweiser Distribution Over Wage Cuts

Heartless owners say they will permanently replace over 100 long-time workers on strike

The workers who deliver, sell, and merchandise Budweiser, Heineken, and other beer products to Nassau and Suffolk Counties walked the picket line today, largely stopping distribution on Long Island. The over 100 drivers and warehousemen, who work for Clare Rose and are members of Teamsters Local 812, began striking when the company announced 30% wage cuts and ended the drivers’ pension.

“This is a highly profitable company in a stable industry. There is no explanation for massive wage and retirement cuts other than greed,” said Teamsters Local 812 President Ed Weber. “These are the middle-class jobs that we used to be able to count on in Long Island. We aren’t going to give up our livelihoods just so the rich can get richer.”

Less than one day into the strike, Clare Rose took the drastic step of announcing that it is permanently replacing the striking workers.

“The company has no legal right to permanently replace these workers,” said Weber. “It shows how heartless this company has become.”

“How am I supposed to support my family on a 30% wage cut?” asked Billy Schildt, a Teamster member who has delivered beer at Clare Rose for 41 years. “I’ve given my life to this company and it hurts to be thrown aside just because I want to be able to support my family. I will strike as long as it takes to get the fair contract we deserve.”

The union negotiated with Clare Rose for months without progress before the highly-profitable company put forward a “final offer” of wage and retirement cuts. Workers voted it down 107 to 9. When the company notified the union that it intended to impose the harsh cuts anyway, the workers went on strike.

Monday morning, the mechanics who maintain Clare Rose trucks walked out in support of the striking drivers and warehousemen, undermining the company’s attempts to operate without striking workers. The mechanics are members of Machinists Local 447.

Clare Rose is the sole distributor of Budweiser, Bud Lite, Heineken, Blue Point, Greenport, and several other craft beers for Long Island. It is headquartered in East Yaphank with an additional facility in Melville.

“Clare Rose workers are proud of the work they do and are only standing up for their families,” said Joe Vitta, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 812. “Pretty soon your favorite beer brands won’t be available at the store or bar, and it’s because Clare Rose owners decided to play hardball with their workers.”

The union said the strike 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.