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Beer Distributor Taking Brookhaven Community for a Ride; Tax Break Benefits Turned Against Workers

May 19, 2017 
By Silver Krieger

New York, NY - Tax benefits for private companies can be very effective in creating value for their communities. But often, tax breaks awarded by municipalities in the hope of sustaining growth and employment disappear into the greedy maw of companies that backtrack on their promises.

That’s what’s happening right now in Brookhaven, where the Clare Rose Company, a major beer distributor on Long Island, is taking the money but not plowing it back into wages and benefits. Worse yet: Clare Rose cut wages and benefits, invited a strike, and is now permanently replacing strikers – which is against the law.

In a strongly-worded letter to Fred Braun, Chair of the Town of Brookhaven Industrial Development Agency, which granted tax breaks totaling over a million dollars to the company, 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 told the IDA that it has the right and obligation to declare Clare Rose in default of promises it made to support Long Island Families and to recoup the value of tax breaks, retroactively and going forward.

In the agreement, Clare Rose promised to maintain 177 jobs at its new distribution facility in East Yaphank. Instead, on April 23, the company cut drivers’ wages by 30% and ended the workers’ pensions. When an expected strike materialized, the company went much further: announcing that permanent replacements for strikers would be hired. One announcement calling for permanent replacements was put out by the company on Facebook. The company started using out of state replacement workers last Monday, May 15th

“This is union busting 101,” said Mark Pooler, who has delivered beer at Clare Rose for 26 years. “I think Clare Rose knows that they can’t permanently replace us. Not only is it illegal, but the out-of-state replacements they have hired have been screwing up left and right. We will not be intimidated. The company should restore our pay and our pensions so we can all get back to work.”

Teamsters Local 812 filed a new Unfair Labor Practice Charge before NLRP against Clare Rose last week, alleging bad faith bargaining and attempts to undermine the workers’ labor rights. Previous charges accused Clare Rose of threatening union members and unlawfully reducing wages and ending benefit programs.

The company has tried to intimidate workers by telling them to end their union membership and sending them information about national Right to Work initiatives aimed at crushing labor unions throughout the country.

But deliveries have slowed across Long Island as many small businesses have not taken product from Clare Rose in support of the strikers.

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