PATCHOGUE, N.Y. – Striking beer delivery drivers in Long Island rallied outside Blue Point Brewery on Saturday, calling on the brewers’ distributor to end labor abuses. Clare Rose, whose workers are on strike over wage and pension cuts, is the sole distributor of Blue Point products on Long Island.
“Clare Rose cannot hide from its workers,” said Teamsters Local 812 President Ed Weber. “We are going to go straight to Clare Rose’s customers to tell them about wage cuts and mass firings. And we expect Clare Rose’s business partners to hold Clare Rose accountable.”
Workers at Clare Rose have been on strike since April 23rd, when the company unilaterally cut drivers’ wages by 30% and ended the pension. The company mailed letters to workers informing them that they had been permanently replaced and giving them instructions to end their membership in the union.
The Saturday rally coincided with Blue Point’s “Big Brew Day at the Boatyard” party. Union members urged Long Islanders to boycott Clare Rose products. Protesters handed out leaflets and held banners reading “Clare Rose Hurts Long Island Families.”
“This is a question of whether we can put food on the table and take care of our families in the long-term,” said Louis Chiarelli, a warehouse worker at Clare Rose. “If local businesses care about their community, then they won’t do business with Clare Rose until this strike is over. It’s that simple.”
Many Long Island small businesses, on the other hand, have supported the Clare Rose workers. A photo of a Handy Pantry sign in Manorville went viral on social media with the company’s message, “We stand behind our drivers! Not taking Bud deliveries until contract is reached!” Many others have refused Clare Rose deliveries and pledged their support to the striking Teamsters.
“I have known many of my customers for decades,” said Billy Schildt, a Clare Rose driver who started working at the company as a teenager. “To them, we are the face of Clare Rose. They care about us and our families and want us to win this strike. They are even keeping us fed on the picket line. We are truly thankful for their support.”
The Blue Point rally was the largest of numerous protests targeting Clare Rose at supermarkets, stadiums, and other beer sellers on Long Island. The strike activities have traveled as far as the nation’s capital, where the Teamsters Union protested outside of the National Beer Wholesalers Association’s Legislative Conference. Over the past week, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the New York State AFL-CIO, and Congressman Tom Suozzi, among others, have pledged support to the strikers’ cause.
More and more Long Island stores and bars are running out of Clare Rose products as the strike gains momentum. Clare Rose is the sole distributor of Budweiser, Bud Lite, Heineken, Pabst, Blue Point, Greenport, and several other craft beers for Long Island. It is headquartered in East Yaphank with an additional facility in Melville.
The union 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 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.