May 3, 2017
By Stephanie West
Great Neck, NY – More and more Long Island stores and bars are running out of Budweiser, Heineken, and other beer products as a Teamsters strike at Clare Rose beer distributors continues for a fourth day.
The over 100 drivers and warehousemen, who are members of Teamsters Local 812, began striking Sunday April 23, when the company announced 30% wage cuts and ended the drivers’ pension. Less than one day into the strike, Clare Rose took the drastic step of announcing that it is permanently replacing the striking workers, despite legal prohibitions against doing so.
Meanwhile, the striking union members started receiving letters signed by Clare Rose executives, telling them how to end their union membership and directing them to the National Right to Work Defense Fund.
“Clare Rose has to be crazy. Our union is the only thing protecting us from pay cuts, pension cuts, and disability cuts,” said Mark Pooler, who has delivered beer at Clare Rose for 26 years. “There is a reason that none of us have crossed the picket line. There is a reason that Long Island is running out of Bud. We are a strong union and we won’t back down.”
Assemblyman Charles Lavine also released a supportive statement on Thursday, calling for Clare Rose to reopen negotiations.
“The hard workers of Clare Rose deserve better than the offer they have received,” said Lavine. “I am particularly disturbed by Clare Rose’s heavy-handed threat to permanently replace the striking workers. It is in the best interests of both parties to reengage one another and restart negotiations. I urge Clare Rose to back off from its hardline tactics and give proper respect to the union. Long Island’s workers deserve fair treatment.”
An outpouring of public support, including from other New York Teamster locals, has kept morale high among the strikers. The number of supporters joining workers on the picket line has grown each day, as have donations to the union’s strike fund and donations of food to families of strikers.
Clare Rose workers deliver, sell, and merchandise Budweiser, Heineken, and other beer products to Nassau and Suffolk Counties. They have been on strike since Sunday evening, largely stopping distribution on Long Island.
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
“The support we have received from the public has been huge,” said Weber. “Whether it’s honking your horn as you drive by the picket line or deciding to not buy beer from Clare Rose, it means a lot to the members of Local 812. We know we will win this strike, because Long Island is behind us.”