Belmar works around Shore Point stalemate pre-Seafood Festival
Belmar's upcoming Seafood Festival remains beer-tent-less, but perhaps not for long. Borough officials, who responded to a union lockout at Shore Point Distribution in Freehold by dropping their vending agreement, are pursuing several other supply sources, according to Mayor Matt Doherty.
"Because they have chosen to lock out their workers, Belmar will not permit Shore Point to be a part of the Seafood Festival," Doherty told WOBM. "We cannot in good conscience allow Shore Point to make money off selling beer on public land in Belmar to working class families while at the same time they deny those same type of families the ability to work."
Shore Point, contacted via e-mail and phone to present its position, offered no comment. The action affected 113 workers, according to North Brunswick-based Teamsters Local 701, bargaining since late February.
The union claims that Shore Point seeks to "force them to give up their pension, accept a 3-year wage freeze, and agree to give the company permission to change their health insurance plan and co-pays at any time."
Teamsters Local 812 staged a simultaneous strike against Long Island-based Clare Rose Distributors, claiming that the company seeks to curtail pensions and cut wages by 30 percent.
The Mayor's comments prompted several followup questions, to which he responded, point by point.
Q: Why is it necessary for Belmar to take a role in a contract disagreement between Shore Point and Teamsters 701?
A: We simply believe that a company that locks out its workers should not be permitted to profit off of a public event held on public land.
Q: What is the significance of public land in this instance? Is there a financial stake for the borough?
A: It is land owned by the people of Belmar, not any corporation. I believe as the Mayor I am trusted to manage the town government and the property of the town in a way to promotes the public good.
Shore Point was refunded their $20,000 deposit for being a part of the Seafood Festival. It has no impact of taxpayers.
Q: Have any Seafood Festival organizers, or borough officials, or you, spoken to the parties involved, to encourage at least a truce so that Belmar's original plans can remain in place?
A: No. If fact it is more the opposite. I have received a tremendous amount of support from everyone related to the festival. They appreciate that we are willing to sacrifice some money to do what is right.
Q: Would Belmar have banned Shore Point if the workers had gone on strike, as happened on Long Island?
A: By locking the workers out of their jobs Shore Point choose to bully their workers as oppose to negotiate in good faith with them. That is the situation we are dealing with today in Belmar.
Q: Are you saying that everyone who attends the Seafood Festival is working-class? If so, how do you arrive at the categorization, and why is it essential to use the term?
A: It is a free event that attracts a lot of working-class people. I can tell you that by the crowds that come every year. They are also very diverse crowds. I think it is important to point out who comes because those some type of working-class families who buy the beer Shore Point serves are locked out of their jobs at Shore Point. Imagine the hypocrisy of serving beer to the same type of working-class people who are locked out of working at Shore Point.
Q: Is the borough arranging for service with another distributor, or scrapping the tent?
A: We are working on an alternative. I have been contacted by another distributor and several micro-breweries about filling the void.
The Seafood Festival takes place May 19 - 21.