East Yaphank beer distributor Clare Rose began sending letters to elected officials Wednesday explaining its position on the strike by its union delivery drivers and warehouse workers.
More than 100 union workers represented by Teamsters Local 812 are picketing Clare Rose’s Melville and East Yaphank facilities.
The strike, which began late last month, has attracted the attention of local politicians, including Rep. Thomas Suozzi (D-Glen Cove) and Assemb. Charles Lavine (D-Glen Cove), who both released statements supporting the union employees and urged a resolution between the two parties.
The letter to elected officials, provided to Newsday by Clare Rose, reiterates points the company made in a statement Friday, including that more than half the striking workers would receive a raise under the latest contract offer, that the average driver would earn $70,000 a year, and that only a portion of workers would be paid less than they currently are.
The letter said that for 80 years the company has used a “driver-salesman” model, where delivery workers both take orders and transport beer. But Clare Rose said that with the growth of craft beers, the model is inefficient and “all our competitors now use dedicated salesmen.”
The company added that union employees would not have “lost their vested pensions” under the new contract offer, and that the company would continue to pay 100 percent of health insurance premiums.
Ed Weber, president of Teamsters Local 812, disagreed with the company’s characterization of the contract offer, arguing that, among other things, the proposal would cut wages for drivers by 30 percent and that workers were told that they would be permanently replaced.
“Clare Rose should face facts and return to the bargaining table so we can protect our members, protect the company, and move forward,” Weber said in a statement.
Rose said in a phone interview Wednesday that it “seems that the union has run a negative marketing campaign against my company and my family and I want to get the truth out.” He added, “That’s the main purpose” of the letter.
While the company is “running behind a little” on deliveries, operations are up and running, Rose said.
Still, he emphasized the goal of having the union employees return to work. “We definitely want our employees back,” he said.
Clare Rose distributes roughly 10 million cases of beer annually to 5,000 businesses throughout Nassau and Suffolk counties, and is the exclusive distributor of Anheuser-Busch InBev products.