Beer distributor Clare Rose, whose unionized workers have been on strike since April 23, has begun hiring full-time workers, the company said in a statement sent to Newsday on Tuesday.

“In the absence of the striking employees, we have begun the process of hiring new full-time company employees,” said Sean Rose, president and chief executive of the East Yaphank-based company in the statement. ‘We will continue this process to ensure that we have a stable, full-time work force.”

The union characterized the new hires as replacement workers.

Mark Pooler, a striking worker at the Melville location, said in an interview that the company’s hiring will prove to be illegal replacements for the strikers, and that the National Labor Relations Board, which oversees organized-labor issues, will uphold the union’s charges of unfair labor practices against the company.

“They threatened us on day one of the strike to hire permanent replacements,” said Pooler, who said he has delivered beer at Clare Rose for 26 years. “The fact that they are going through with this is basic union-busting policy.”

In his statement, Rose said, “We believe that the NLRB will find in our favor” on the issue of hiring new workers.

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Clare Rose has been using temporary drivers from as far away as Florida to deliver beer on Long Island, after more than 100 delivery drivers and warehouse workers went on strike last month.

The company at that time said the temporary workers were not replacement workers and that “no one has been fired.”

But in announcing the hiring Tuesday, Rose said that after three months and 23 meetings with the union, “we have reached an impasse” and “the striking workers do not appear ready to return to work.”

The picketing workers have said that they walked out because of the company’s proposal to eliminate a sales function drivers provide that would result in a 30-percent wage cut. Union members said the company has also proposed moving from a traditional pension to a 401(k) retirement savings plan.

Clare Rose said Tuesday that well over half the striking workers would receive a raise in its latest contract offer. And it said that workers would remain vested in their pensions if the company switched to a 401 (k) retirement plan.