(COLUMBUS, Ohio) – In a dramatic show of unity in the face of unreasonable demands on Heidelberg Distributing’s unionized workforce, Teamsters who represent approximately 500 workers at six of Heidelberg’s family-owned distributorships of beer, wine and spirits in Ohio declared their solidarity by marching together into negotiations with Teamsters Local 284 in Columbus for contract talks yesterday. Employees there voted to join the Teamsters two years ago, but are still without a contract.
The Vontz and Miller families who own Heidelberg Distributing are locked in a family feud for control of the company whose annual sales topped $661 million in 2013.
“Our union brothers sent a clear message to Heidelberg today,” said Paul Suffoletto, Teamsters Local 284 President. “As Teamsters we believe an injury to one is an injury to all. The family feud that some fear may destroy this company is not going to destroy the unity of our Teamster family.”
In addition to the two contracts being negotiated in Columbus and Youngstown, the contracts with Heidelberg in Toledo, Cleveland and Dayton all expire within the next 45 days.
“We joined at the negotiation table today even though our members in Cincinnati have a contract until April of 2016 because we know if this ‘War on Workers’ is not won by the five locals with the open and expiring contracts, we’ll be next,” said Randy Verst, Teamsters Local 1199 President.
“We have embarked on a campaign for fairness for workers at Heidelberg and will do everything in our power to that end,” said Bill Lichtenwald, Ohio conference of Teamsters President. “I’m proud of the unity and solidarity shown by the locals today. They’re going to stand together as long as it takes.”
Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico. Visit www.teamster.org for more information. Follow us on Twitter @Teamsters and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/teamsters.