The strike by clerical staff and warehouse workers at Empire Merchants, the New York wine and liquor distributor, entered its second full day on Thursday, with no talks scheduled until Friday at the earliest.
“While wage and benefit improvements met recent competitor settlements, ever increasing use of temporary workers has inhibited the opportunity for long-term, non-steady workers to achieve regular status with its additional compensation and benefits,” George Orlando, president of UFCW Local 1D, which represents the clerical and warehouse staff, said in an email.
“This trend is inconsistent with industry practice and is a direct threat to the job security of our members and the integrity of our Union,” Orlando added.
The strike means that Empire’s customers—retailers, restaurants, bars and hotels throughout New York City, Long Island and Westchester County—will not be receiving deliveries, nor will they be able to place new orders.
There are 17,310 bars and restaurants with active liquor licenses in the region Empire serves, according to figures on the New York State Liquor Authority website. According to data compiled by Bevspot, which makes software for bars and restaurants, wine sales hit their highs during the winter months. Last November, wine made up 37 percent of all beverage sales at bars and restaurants.
Calls seeking a comment from Empire Merchants were not returned.
But on the company’s website, customers are told: “(…)we are working on a modified basis and are unable to take orders at this time. Please note, reporting to the New York State Liquor Authority will continue so it is important to follow normal payment schedules. If you are a registered user of Empire Merchants’ Online Bill Pay or Pay By Phone systems, you can continue to pay bills and view account information.
Please check our website periodically for updates.”
This article was updated.