Tensions rise as temporary drivers cross picket line at Quality Beverage in Taunton – News – The Taunton Daily Gazette, Taunton, MA

TAUNTON – While many people over Memorial Day weekend were attending barbecues, watching parades, taking a trip to the beach or just visiting family and friends, Chad Teixeira’s weekend was much different.

“I’ve been here for over 12 hours. I slept here last night,” Teixeira said as he huddled up under a pop-up tent outside of Quality Beverage Inc. in Taunton’s Myles Standish Industrial Park.

Teixeira is one of dozens of union drivers and warehouse workers from Quality Beverage, one of the largest independently-owned beer wholesalers in New England, who have been on strike since last Friday, May 26.

On Tuesday, May 30, temporary drivers and other workers, brought in by Quality Beverage, passed the large group of striking workers, who had other local union workers from surrounding companies by their side.

“I think it is ridiculous it got to this point. It could have been settled,” said Mike Bibienvenue who has worked at Quality Beverage for 20 years. “I’m hoping the company will come to their senses.”

Teamsters Union Local 170 business agent Sean Foley, who represents the workers, said Friday, when the strike began, that the new five-year contract proposed by the company is unsatisfactory—because it doesn’t guarantee that the company will not arbitrarily increase each member’s contribution to his or her healthcare plan.

“All we are doing is looking for a fair contract with fair wage and fair health insurance,” Shannon George, the principal officer for Teamsters Local 170, said.

But Quality Beverage spokesperson Scott Farmelant said Tuesday the contract the union rejected would have frozen employees’ healthcare contribution for five years.

Farmelant said Quality Beverage considers itself “an employee first company,” with the average driver earning more than $70,000 a year and some more than $100,000.

“The offers during negotiations were made in good faith and were certainly…

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