Hartford Distributors Incorporated, an alcohol distributor in Manchester, locked out union employees at 7 a.m. on Wednesday because the union and company have not reached a contractual agreement.
The contract between HDI and Teamsters Local 1035 expired on April 30.
The roughly 120 warehouse employees and drivers have been working under the terms and conditions of the prior contract, while working to negotiate new terms.
However on Saturday, June 4, the principal officer received a letter from HDI notifying them there would be a lockout if an agreement was not reached.
“I have been a business agent for 27 years negotiating contracts. This is the first time I have ever had a company lock us out when we are sitting down and negotiating,” Chris Roos, the principal officer for Teamsters Local 1035, said.
The contract that ended on April 30 was extended from 2013. The first time it was extended for two years. The second time, it was extended for one year.
Douglas Norwood, of Manchester, has worked for HDI for 30 years and said he feels a sense of betrayal.
“They told us to give them a year to straighten things out and then they didn’t. It seems like they are trying to force us out and we didn’t go, so they locked us out,” Norwood said.
He and his fellow union workers want to work, Norwood said.
“We don’t mind doing more for them. They want us to take more cases, they always have and we’re not against that if they just do certain things to make it easier for us on the road,” Norwood said.
Until the dispute is settled, it appears that HDI has contracted other drivers to make deliveries as trucks were seen leaving the company on Wednesday.
Roos said the nightshift employees loaded 20 trucks before the lockout started and, typically, about 60 trucks go out for deliveries per day.
Union workers held signs in front of the business Wednesday to let the community know the circumstances surrounding the lockout.
“We did a lot to support this company through the years to keep them going. We’re looking for community support to help our employees get back to work,” Roos said.
NBC Connecticut reached out to HDI and its attorney for a comment, but we did not recieve an immediate response.