A Dry 4th of July? Strike Could Cause Local Beer Shortage

The striking members of Teamsters Local 830 union work at the big three distributors of beer in the Philadelphia region

NBC Universal, Inc.

The Delaware Valley may find itself "lite" on beer ahead of the 4th of July holiday. A little more than 400 of local beer distributor workers are on strike this week.

The workers are members of the Teamsters Local 830 union. And they include employees of Origlio Beverage, Muller Incorporated, and Penn Beer Sales and Service: the big three distributors of beer in the five-county Philadelphia region.

None of the three distributors are making deliveries or taking orders during the strike.

On Saturday, the workers voted 308-40 to reject a proposed contract from the Delaware Valley Importers Distributors Association. They continue to demand better wages and better hours, and, in a unanimous decision, Teamsters Local 830 began the strike at 12:01 a.m. Sunday.

“Compensation is always an issue, but what’s particularly problematic is the beverage companies’ proposed hours of work for our members - 12 hour shifts for five or six consecutive days," said Teamsters Local 830 Secretary-Treasurer Daniel H. Grace. "That’s excessive."

Delaware Valley Importing Distributor Association responded saying they were "shocked and disappointed" at what they called a "last-minute turnaround."

The union members – including drivers, warehouse and production workers, and sales and marketing personnel – have formed picket lines in Montgomery County and Northeast Philadelphia.

NBC10 was at Muller Incorporated on Grant Avenue in Philadelphia as union members took to the picket line Monday.

The strike came about two weeks out from Independence Day celebrations, and as Grace said, a time most lucrative for the alcoholic beverage industry.

Origlio handles the distribution of brands like Coors, Corona, Blue Moon, Angry Orchard and Guinness. Muller carries brands like Miller Lite, Pabst Blue Ribbon, and Yards. Penn has beer brands such as Budweiser, Busch, Michelob and Natural Light. In addition, all three carry a variety of national and local craft beers and other products like malt beverages and seltzers.

Penn is also the exclusive supplier to the Philadelphia sports complex.

Restaurant managers told NBC10 they are bracing for a possible shortage of beer ahead of the big summer holiday.

“It will affect my beer supply greatly,” Steven Holley, the beverage manager of Cuba Libre in Old City, said. “We can just increase inventory as much as possible and just hope that the strike doesn’t last long.”

In a statement, the DVIDA said in part, “We are committed to working through this with our union members and are hopeful we can get to a speedy resolution. As we approach the summer holidays, we have contingency plans in place to minimize any disruption to our suppliers and the market.”

Correction: This story has been updated to reflect the accurate number of workers striking and has updated the name of the Delaware Valley Importing Distributors Association.

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