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Striking Clare Rose workers stage rally at brewery

Workers who went out on strike against the East Yaphank-based Clare Rose beer distributor held a rally Saturday, May 6, 2017, at the Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue.  (Credit: Ed Betz)

Workers who went out on strike against the East Yaphank-based Clare Rose beer distributor held a rally at the Blue Point Brewery in Patchogue on Saturday.

“The rally was focused on informing beer consumers and passers-by about the labor abuses at Clare Rose,” said Alex Moore, a spokesman for Teamsters Joint Council 16.

Blue Point was hosting the Big Brew, helping home-brewers, to celebrate National Home-brew Day. Clare Rose distributes Blue Point’s products to Long Island stores and restaurants

“We are not here to hurt the small-town brewer,” said Brandon Winslow, a shop steward and driver for Clare Rose, which distributes 10 million cases of beer each year in Nassau and Suffolk.

Sean Rose, CEO and president of the firm, the exclusive distributor of Anheuser-Busch InBev products, declined to comment on the rally. The union said about 100 people protested.

Clare Rose workers say they went out on strike last month to protect their pensions; the firm has offered replacement 401(k) plans and a 30 percent cut in wages, they say.

The company has said more than half of the strikers would get a raise under the latest contract offer, adding the average driver would earn $70,000 a year and that only a portion of its workers would take a pay cut.

Joseph Vitta, the local’s secretary-treasurer, rejected that analysis on Saturday. “They are eliminating middle-class jobs on Long Island,” he said.

The union spokesman said the workers found an ally in Blue Point. “They told us they supported the strikers at Clare Rose,” said Moore.

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