Striking Union, Beer Distributor Battle Over Contract

Workers have been on strike for 5 weeks.

Calling their new contract "garbage," the Local 443 employees of Dichello Distributors in Orange rallied outside the company on Monday morning to express their frustrations over a new contract.

The rally comes as the beer distribution company advertises to fill jobs held by union workers who have been on strike for five weeks.

Union officials said Dichello Distributors implemented an unfair contract last month, then prevented union workers from doing their jobs.

"They wanted to take away our health and welfare and our pension package, and put us into a package that the company sponsors," Danny Flanagan, Local 443 President, said.

Union members said what is happening to them is not fair.

"I'm out here fighting for my job, along with the rest of our members. It's unfair. I think it has a lot to do with corporate greed," Dave Molster, a delivery driver for the company, said. "When our members came to work March 10, they were locked out. It's unfortunate. We just want to work, and we just want our benefits."

However, Dichello Distributors President Edward Crowley said the company has offered a competitive package that includes a pay raise, a 401K-retirement plan and a ConnectiCare health plan.

"Dichello never wanted for this to happen. We have said all along that we want a new contract with Local 443, and we are trying to protect union jobs in an industry that, in this area, is dominated by non-union distributors," Crowley said in a statement.

However, after five weeks of employment strikes, Dichello will have to find replacement employees, company officials said. The company has started to advertise for those jobs, much to the disappointment of the union.

"We're out here, we'll stay out here. If they think that they can get the quality of people that are out here on a picket line fighting for their jobs to replace them, good luck to them," Flanagan said.

Union officials said they would like Dichello to come back to the table and negotiate a new contract.

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