More than 300 delivery drivers and warehouse workers employed by Heidelberg Distributing, one of the country's largest beer wholesalers, have reportedly been putting up informational pickets at key distribution facilities throughout Ohio to protest the company's labor policies. And if workers' demands aren't met, Ohio's beer and wine supply is in threat of running at least partially dry this busy summer season.
The Teamsters have reportedly launched billboards around the Dayton area stating “Tell Budweiser: Destroying Ohio Jobs is Tasteless.” The union's official press release featured on PR Newswire stated:
“The last thing we want is a strike, but Heidelberg management just continues to back our members into a corner,” said Varney Richmond, President of Teamsters Local 957. The Local represents more than 100 delivery drivers and warehouse workers at Heidelberg’s Dayton-area distribution center, which distributes Anheuser Busch products including Budweiser.
"Heidelberg is trying to walk away from its obligation to provide health care to retirees and force employees to accept a substandard contract compared to Coke, Pepsi and Miller distributors in the area," Richmond said. "Our members have shown a willingness to take on cost-saving measures when management has pointed to legitimate issues. However, in this case the company cannot justify its changes."
And reports indicate Heidelberg's local conflict might extend to other collective bargaining agreements in place for more than 300 additional Heidelberg employees at four other Ohio distribution centers. The result could be a widespread labor dispute in the state. The Teamsters' press release continued:
"Despite enormous profits and sales, management is seeking drastic cuts from these workers," said Greg Nowak, Teamsters International Representative for the union's Beverage Conference. "If Heidelberg wants to wage war on workers, the company is going to have to answer to all of its employees and the communities that support its business."
Another union battle might have just kicked off.