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Teamsters Oppose Beer Monopoly in Rhode Island

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(EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I.) – Teamsters representing workers at Mancini Beverage are urging the public to contact state authorities to object to the company’s planned purchase of a local Budweiser distribution facility as it will create a monopoly and hurt workers. Additionally, the union is fighting to keep its members safe while Mancini Beverage is currently under investigation for their COVID-19 prevention protocol lapses.

“It’s our job to protect workers from bad corporate actors,” said Matt Maini, Teamsters Local 251 Business Agent. “We believe this power grab attempt by the Mancini’s and their lack of concern for the health of the company’s workers and the general public during this pandemic puts them at the top of that list of bad corporate actors. I urge all concerned parties in Rhode Island to submit comments by the November 13 deadline in opposition to this proposed monopoly via email to the Department of Business Regulation (DBR) at [email protected] – referencing Case No. 20LQ012.”

On October 30, the Rhode Island DBR held a hearing regarding a proposed liquor license transfer from McLaughlin & Moran Inc., the exclusive wholesale distributor of Budweiser in the state, to a newly formed Mancini family-owned business. The Mancini’s also own Rhode Island’s sole wholesalers of major brands like Miller, Coors, Heineken and Corona. Teamsters Local 251 represents workers at Mancini owned companies and McLaughlin & Moran Inc.

At the virtual DBR hearing labor leaders, liquor store, bar and restaurant owners, members of the community, and workers from the wholesale distributors spoke and submitted written comments. All public comments were in support of Teamsters Local 251’s position that a Mancini monopoly in the beer, wine and spirits industry in Rhode Island would not be good for consumers or small businesses. Only company officials commented in support of the license transfer.

A request for an antitrust investigation by the Rhode Island Attorney General’s office concerning the transaction has been made by Teamsters Local 251 principal officer, Matt Taibi.

“This proposed merging of all the biggest selling brands of beers under the Mancini umbrella of companies would not be good for workers, small businesses, or the general public,” Taibi said. “The shell game the Mancini’s are trying to play in order to avoid the appearance of a monopoly in the liquor industry needs to be exposed and stopped in its tracks.”

“As part of a 2016 U.S. Justice Department antitrust lawsuit settlement, Anheuser-Busch InBev agreed to divest of its ownership of Miller/Coors in the United States. This proposed transaction by the Mancini’s with the approval of Anheuser-Busch is clearly a violation of the spirit of that settlement. There were serious antitrust concerns raised by the U.S. Attorney General’s office over a single corporation having control over many of the same brands of beer that would be merged under the Mancini umbrella in Rhode Island if they are allowed to slip this purchase past an unsuspecting public,” Taibi said.

Complaints from Mancini Beverage’s current workforce over keeping them safe from COVID-19 were also raised at the October 30 hearing. In response, the state Department of Health announced an investigation was being conducted at the Mancini owned company. Several Mancini workers have contracted COVID-19 and workers report that the company has failed to comply with public health experts’ recommendations for containing the spread of COVID-19. This could turn the company’s merged operations into a hub for spreading the virus to a hospitality industry that is already struggling to survive.