By Mike Gutwig
A Teamsters strike at Hood River Distillers (HRD) is still going strong, with 100% of the workforce still walking the picket line, reports Michael Beranbaum, secretary-treasurer of Local 670.
Twenty-five workers walked off the job May 6 after their employer, during the COVID-19 pandemic, implemented its own final offer that altered health insurance benefits and provided paltry wage increases. HRD produces and bottles popular brands such as Pendleton Whiskey, Aviation Gin, Jose Cuervo tequila, and Monarch distilled spirits.
Beranbaum told the Labor Press the strike is having an impact on production, noting that seven railroad tanker cars containing bulk alcohol are stalled at The Dalles because railroad workers won’t cross the Teamsters’ picket line. The raw alcohol is blended and bottled at the Hood River plant.
Beranbaum said the plant’s air conditioning unit broke down, but HVAC repair crews wouldn’t cross the picket line to fix it.
“We’ve had some 90 degree days here, so it can’t be too comfortable in there,” he said.
He said scabs appear to be mostly teenagers, possibly kids and friends of management personnel. “There’s not much coming out of there,” he said.
The union has filed unfair labor practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the company bargained in bad faith and made unilateral changes to terms and conditions of employment. No new talks were scheduled at press time.
Pickets are receiving a weekly strike benefit from the international union, and a separate strike assistance fund has been set up and is receiving contributions from Teamsters locals throughout the West Coast.
HOW TO HELP: You can contribute to the strike fund as well. Contributions can be sent to: Teamsters Local 670, Strike Assistance Fund, P.O. Box 3048 Salem, Oregon, 97302