Anheuser-Busch could be delivered nonunion if Maletis Beverage succeeds in busting Teamsters



Portland’s Anheuser-Busch distributor no longer recognizes Teamsters Local 162 as a union representing its employees. Local 162 has represented workers at the Portland facility of Maletis Beverage for more than 75 years. But a May 3 memo to employees from owner Rob Maletis says the company withdrew recognition because it received a petition from a majority of employees showing that they no longer wish to be represented by the union. 

The memo goes on to say that the collective bargaining agreement is terminated and no longer in effect, the company will no longer meet with the union to negotiate, and that Maletis will stop making contributions to the pension and 401(k) and instead implement the terms of its final offer to the union.

“We are grateful you have put your trust in our family to ensure for your best interests and look forward to establishing a direct relationship with you worthy of that trust,” Maletis wrote. 

Maletis Beverage was founded by Rob Maletis’ grandfather in 1935 and still distributes out of facilities in Portland and Vancouver, but today it’s registered as a limited liability corporation in the state of Delaware. The company did not return an email from the Labor Press requesting comment. 

The Portland union bargaining unit included about 145 workers in three departments: warehouse, distribution/drivers, and sales. (Another 35 Maletis workers in Vancouver are still represented by Teamsters Local 58.)

A Portland union steward who asked not to be named said the union knew some workers in sales had started a decertification petition, but for the effort to have gotten majority support would mean substantially everyone in the sales department would have to have signed. When Maletis held an unfair labor practice strike April 10, many sales department workers crossed the picket line.

Since the company announced it’s walking away from the union, the steward said, it has fired at least one employee.

In five separate unfair labor practice charges that are pending investigation by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), Local 162 accuses Maletis Beverage of bad faith bargaining, repudiating the union contract and unilaterally implementing terms, and interrogating and making coercive statements to workers. The union also alleges the company tried to coerce and incentivize workers to sign the decertification petition. 

If the NLRB finds merit to the charges, it could nullify the company’s decision to withdraw union recognition.


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