Thursday, March 26, 2015

United Teamsters face down divided ownership at Heidelberg Distributing Co.

Feuding family members who own Heidelberg Distributing Ohio are making unreasonable contract demands on Teamster employees, but Teamsters stand united against the owners.

Teamsters represent approximately 500 workers at six of Heidelberg’s family-owned distributorships of beer, wine and spirits in Ohio.

Heidelberg employees voted to join Teamsters Local 284 in Columbus two years ago, but are still without a contract. In Youngstown, Teamsters have been bargaining for a first contract for more than 18 months. Contracts with Heidelberg in Toledo, Cleveland and Dayton expired or are on the verge of expiring.

Members of Teamsters Local 1199 in Cincinnati have a contract until April 2016, but that didn't stop them last month from joining other Heidelberg Teamsters in a show of solidarity during contract talks in Columbus. Teamsters from six locals that represent Heidelberg declared their solidarity by marching together into negotiations with Teamsters Local 284.

Yesterday, 100 percent of  Teamsters Local 957 who work at Heidelberg's Dayton facility voted yes on strike authorization. The strike vote followed a standing-room-only meeting in Cleveland with Teamsters General Secretary-Treasurer Ken Hall.

From l to r: Bill Lichtenwald, Ken Hall, Randy Verst, and Max Zemla
talk solidarity with Heidelberg TeamsterFamly!

WCPO reported: 
Union workers are threatening a statewide strike at one of the largest beer and wine distributorships in the Midwest, citing stalled contract negotiations over better wages and health care. 
This is the latest blow for Heidelberg Distributing Co., which is embroiled in a bitter legal battle between its two sibling owners, who accuse each other of using the company for personal gain. Union leaders say the family dispute is spilling into the workplace and dampening contract negotiations. 
The issue attracted a visit from the second-in-command of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Ken Hall, who met with Heidelberg workers in Cleveland on Sunday. He is secretary-treasurer of the Teamsters, just under president James P. Hoffa, at one of North America’s largest unions. 
“We’re worried that this family feud is really going to lead to the destruction of a company that our members helped to build,” Hall said. “Right now, the company is just not bargaining reasonably with the union.”