Empire Merchants Settles Workers Strike | Wine Enthusiast
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Empire Merchants Settles Workers Strike

Empire Merchants resumed deliveries on Monday after settling a three-day strike by workers concerned about the growing number of temporary employees the largest wine and spirits distributor in the New York metropolitan area was hiring.

“The economics were good. Wages, medical and pension. It was the maintenance of regular employees that was the issue,” George Orlando, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Local 1D, which represents the clerical and warehouse staff, told Wine Enthusiast Tuesday.

The contract has long included a provision allowing the company to hire temporary workers. But UFCW workers felt that too many temporary hires were being made preventing part-time employees from gaining full-time status with its attendant pay and benefits.

The three-day strike ended after just a few hours of talks on Friday. “The company met with us, and there was a mediator,” Orlando said. “We got a general understanding that this (the temporary workers’ issue) needs to be addressed. It was a relatively specific point.”

The other unions —Teamsters Local 917—which represents the drivers—and UFCW Local 2D—which represents the sales force—honored the picket lines at Empire Merchants Queens and Brooklyn locations. As a result, no deliveries were made to any of the thousands of bars, retailers, restaurants, and hotels in New York City, Long Island and Westchester county Wednesday, Thursday or Friday.

Deliveries resumed on Monday, only to halt on Election Day in New York, when Empire Merchants is closed. Empire Merchants will also be closed on Friday. Bordeauxs from Barton & Guestier to Mouton Rothschild, Italian reds from Riunite Lambrusco to Il Poggione Brunello, California wines from Carlo Rossi to Opus One, and Burgundies from Louis Jadot to Domaine Ramonet and when it comes to whiskeys—Bulleit and Buffalo TraceOban and Johnnie WalkerJose Cuervo and Don JulioKetel One,  Smirnoff  and so many brands in between won’t be shipped Friday for Veteran’s Day.