(GREAT NECK, N.Y.) – Long Island’s small businesses are turning against Clare Rose, the sole distributor of Anheuser-Busch products and several craft beers like Blue Point and Greenport. Dozens of bars and stores are supporting the Teamsters strike, which began April 23, and have joined the boycott of the company by hanging boycott signs in their windows and refusing deliveries from Clare Rose’s replacement drivers.
“Our business is boycotting Clare Rose until the Teamster strike ends,” said Jon Cusano of Brownstone Brewing Company. “We need to support these middle-class families so they can have fair wages and decent pensions.”
The list of local businesses boycotting Clare Rose includes Handy Pantry in Manorville and Mastic Beach, Farrell’s Pub in West Islip, Tara Inn in Port Jefferson, JW’s Pub in Ronkonkoma, and North Shore Beverage in Miller Place. Clare Rose workers, who are members of Local 812, are on strike over wage and benefit cuts.
“Clare Rose wanted to play hardball with its employees and our Long Island neighbors aren’t standing for it,” said Louis Chiarelli, a warehouse worker with 26 years at Clare Rose. “This strike is doing lasting harm to the company’s market share in Nassau and Suffolk Counties. It’s only going to get worse for Clare Rose as this strike drags on.”
The union has galvanized support in the community since the first day of the strike. The drivers have always been the face of Clare Rose to customers and they have visited their old accounts to educate bar and store owners about the reasons for the strike and to ask for their support. They also distributed signs reading “No Anheuser-Busch Sold Here Until Clare Rose Strike Ends.”
Workers at Clare Rose went on strike when the company unilaterally cut drivers’ wages by 30 percent and ended the workers’ pension. After workers began the strike, Clare Rose notified both the union and the workers individually that they would be permanently replaced. Clare Rose has since brought replacement workers from out-of-state.
Many businesses that aren’t boycotting Clare Rose still cannot sell Anheuser-Busch products, because Clare Rose is failing to make many deliveries.
“I am losing business,” said Sultan Qurashi of Sultan’s Lucky Corner in Massapequa. “Clare Rose never answers my calls anymore and when the driver finally shows up, it is not the product that I ordered. If I have no Bud, customers will go somewhere else. I have to buy other products instead. I’ve also complained directly to Anheuser-Busch.”
Local 812 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 ceases its illegal conduct by restoring wage and benefit cuts and bargaining in good faith.
Yesterday, the Brookhaven IDA confirmed that it is opening an audit of Clare Rose. The company has received over a million dollars in tax breaks, but is required to maintain employment levels in exchange. Clare Rose’s decision to fire its union workforce likely puts the company in violation and the IDA can revoke future subsidies and even demand repayment of past subsidies.
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.