Workers at 3 major Philadelphia-area beer distributors on strike; ask for better wages, hours

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) — Workers at three major beer distributors in the Delaware Valley are on strike, demanding better wages and hours for their workers.

Teamsters Local 830 – which represents thousands of drivers, warehouse/production workers and sales/marketing personnel in the regional beverage industry – went on strike Sunday against Delaware Valley Importing Distributors Association, which includes Penn Beer Sales and Service, Origlio Beverages and Muller, Inc.

If the strike continues for more than a week, experts say consumers will likely see an impact on major US national brands.

All three companies distribute popular beers, including Miller, Coors, Budweiser and White Claw products.

The union called the latest offer insulting. They say they want higher wages and better benefits for workers.

“Compensation is always an issue, but what’s particularly problematic are the working hours offered by beverage companies for our members – 12-hour shifts for five or six consecutive days. That’s excessive” , said Daniel Grace, secretary and treasurer of the union. “Beverage companies know our members are the driving force behind their operations and success, but they think they can treat us like second-class citizens. We won’t tolerate that.”

The strike affects Philadelphia, Bucks, Delaware, Montgomery and Chester counties.

A DVIDA spokesperson said negotiations had been going on for months and the companies were shocked to come to this.

A spokesperson said in a statement: “Despite the abrupt work stoppage, we are committed to addressing this issue with our union members and hope to be able to reach a speedy resolution.”

People who work in beer stores say they understand why workers are on strike, but are worried about their business.

“Everybody has to make a living these days and with everything going up it’s tough. It’s tough for everybody, and you know this business is a main thoroughfare here on Grant (Avenue) and Academy (Road), I just hope we don’t lose any business,” said Natalia Neuls, who works at Beer Box.

Neuls says she has delivery scheduled for Wednesday. She expects it can sell out for several national beers by then and is already nearly out of popular White Claw flavors.

“I think we have a few 12-packs left, but that’s with everything…luckily we have plenty of stock, but some particular favorites that are going fast for the week just won’t be there,” a- she declared.

Beer drinkers hope the contract issues will soon be resolved.

“They’re going to get a lot of people angry. Not only with the prices going up with everything, are they going to withdraw their booze?” said Karen Chavot of Northeast Philadelphia.

On Monday afternoon, DVIDA released a statement saying they are “shocked and disappointed.

“After months of collaborative and productive meetings, we are shocked and disappointed by this last-minute U-turn. The union’s own members’ bargaining committee has unanimously agreed to accept and approve a strong long-term program and aggressive which included the largest salary increase in our fifty-plus year history. It was proposed to recognize the hard work and the essential role they play and boost recruitment efforts to help ease the demands of teams. Despite the sudden work stoppage, we are committed to working with our union members and hope that we can find a quick solution. As the summer holidays approach, we have contingency plans in place to minimize any disruption to our suppliers and the market.

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