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Beerworkers Archive


Post date: 07/06/2012 - 08:38

Strike heats up at Anheuser-Busch warehouse in Riverside

Link to Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/AbRiversideScabs

The dispute with striking Teamsters outside Anheuser-Busch’s Sales Co. in Riverside has deepened, with the brew-maker filing a lawsuit in Riverside County Superior Court against the union.

The lawsuit seeks court-ordered relief from improper picket activity on a claim the striking Teamsters are interfering with Anheuser-Busch’s ability to run its business.

It alleges the Teamsters, Chauffers, Warehousemen, Industrial and Allied Workers of America Local 166, along with 100 unnamed defendants, has gathered in such large numbers that employees, contractors and others having business with Anheuser-Busch are afraid of being hurt or injured.

Link to Facebook page http://www.facebook.com/AbRiversideScabs

The dispute with striking Teamsters outside Anheuser-Busch’s Sales Co. in Riverside has deepened, with the brew-maker filing a lawsuit in Riverside County Superior Court against the union.

The lawsuit seeks court-ordered relief from improper picket activity on a claim the striking Teamsters are interfering with Anheuser-Busch’s ability to run its business.

It alleges the Teamsters, Chauffers, Warehousemen, Industrial and Allied Workers of America Local 166, along with 100 unnamed defendants, has gathered in such large numbers that employees, contractors and others having business with Anheuser-Busch are afraid of being hurt or injured.

Vehicles have been obstructed, the lawsuit says, and verbal threats have been made to belittle, ridicule or insult individuals attempting to cross the picket line at 1400 Marlborough Ave.

The lawsuit also claims the union conspired against the company to prevent employees, supervisors and contractors from reporting to work.

“Strikes aren’t pretty,’’ Local 166 president Mike Pharris said, but the Bloomington-based union is following the rules. “What we’re doing is exercising our First Amendment rights, our freedom of speech. We’re exercising our rights to freedom of assembly.”

Anheuser-Busch regional vice president Henry Dominguez said in a statement that members of the Teamsters have engaged in “threatening and inappropriate conduct” since the strike began on June 25.

“While we recognize the right of these employees to strike, their actions must be within the law,’’ he said. “We are asking that this be enforced through our application to the court for a temporary restraining order.”

Trucks have been held up at the driveways for no more than two minutes, Pharris said, and no one has been physically touched. No arrests have been made through this entire process, he said.

The strike comes at one of the busiest times for the brew-maker, Pharris said, and affects a facility that moves 1 million cases of beer seven to eight months out of the year. “It’s their most effective warehouse distributorship in the country,’’ he said, so it likely has been affected economically.

Teamsters are striking on a contract that expired May 31 over an inability to come to terms on overtime pay, retiree health care benefits for new employees and the way temporary employees would be classified. “It was damn-near unanimous to strike,’’ Pharris said, saying the biggest sticking point involves a change from hourly pay and overtime for delivery workers to a flat amount per day, plus a stipend for every case delivered in the field.

Anheuser-Bush has given Local 166 its best offer, Dominguez said, and it is still on the table. “It provides one of the best wage and benefit packages in our industry in the Riverside area and improves upon the already exceptional package Riverside employees have been operating under,’’ he said.

The lawsuit is set for its first hearing on July 5.