Wednesday, January 16, 2013

NJ Teamsters pull together to restore liquor warehouse, save jobs

Inside Fed-Way after the superstorm
A 10-foot storm surge from Hurricane Sandy that smashed through a New Jersey liquor warehouse could have been a knockout blow to the facility.

But within 15 days, the distributor was back in operation, thanks to Teamster drivers who put aside their duties and got down and dirty with the clean-up.

The near-destruction of the warehouse was international news, as it threatened a liquor shortage in New Jersey during the holidays.

The New York Post reported,
There’s one group that Superstorm Sandy left dry — drinkers. 
Floodwaters from the massive hurricane smashed a New Jersey liquor distributor, causing tens of millions of dollars in damage to its supply of top-shelf alcohol, the company said. 
Yesterday, a sad mix of liquor and slush puddled on the ground outside Fedway Associates Inc.’s warehouse in Kearny — where the smell of red wine hung in the air as workers piled boxes and broken glass into an 8-foot-tall mountain.
Teamster Local 641 Secretary-Treasurer Anthony Artificio Jr., tells us what happened:
On the morning of Nov. 2, 2012, just three days after Hurricane Sandy came crashing through New Jersey leaving a trail of death and destruction, a meeting was held in a vacant warehouse in South Kearny, N.J., that changed the course of history for one of Local 641’s companies. 
Fed-Way Associates of South Kearny employs more than 150 members at its five buildings in and around the area affected by Hurricane Sandy. Every one of the company’s trucks was destroyed beyond repair due to the saltwater penetrating the vehicles’ electrical components as well as the fuel tanks and engines. 
The warehouse was in shambles due to the surge of the water that penetrated its doors and rose to levels up to 10 feet or more inside the packed warehouse that was fully stocked for the upcoming holiday period. 
At the meeting, the owner of Fed-Way, Richard Leventhal, climbed atop a stack of pallets with a handful of papers. Leventhal stated that he had a plan to save the company and ultimately the jobs of all who were present. Leventhal was flanked on both sides by two of his executive officers, Neil Barnett and Robb Sansone. Also in attendance were officers of Local 641 of Union, N.J.; President William Cunningham, Vice President Jan Katz and Secretary-Treasurer and Business Agent Anthony Artificio. 
Leventhal spoke at great length about the plan to remediate the warehouse and how he needed the Teamsters who are just drivers to put aside their duties and get down and dirty to help in the clean-up process that should take approximately six weeks to complete. 
After Leventhal finished his opening remarks, Local 641 Teamsters assembled in a section of the warehouse. Artificio told the workers that if anyone wants to collect unemployment, there would not be a problem should they choose. All others will be assigned eight-hour shifts according to company seniority. Every single Teamster stepped up to the plate and ultimately saved their own jobs. 
I am very proud of what the Teamsters did. The company had a plan that was to take 5-6 weeks. I am happy to tell you that within 15 days, Fed-Way had 60 trucks out for delivery. 
This is just another story of Teamsters helping Teamsters for a common cause. The company is running at about 95 percent at the time of this printing and is providing health, welfare and retirement benefits to all its employees throughout its operation in the Greater New Jersey area.
Great work, brothers and sisters!