Locked-out union employees for major NJ beer distributor to return to work Monday – NJ.com

FREEHOLD — More than 100 employees of a major beer distributor in Central Jersey will return to work on Monday after an agreement was reached between the two sides on Friday, a union official said.

The agreement was reached seven weeks after 113 Shore Point Distributing Company warehouse employees and truck drivers were locked out on April 30.

“We feel it’s a fair deal,” said Ron Lake, the secretary-treasurer of Teams Union 701. “One of the things that came out of this is that Shore Point knows just how valuable these employees are. … It’s not just a labor job. It’s a tough job that they do every day, and they’re worth every minute. And I commend every one of them.”

The lockout came amid ongoing contract negotiations between the union and Shore Point that started in late February. Shore Point wanted a three-year wage freeze, pensions eliminated and the freedom to change its health insurance and co-pays at will.

Lake said the agreement will give the workers an annual 50-cent raise for the three years of the new contract. The company will transition out of the pension plan, but will still give its workers a “substantial amount of money” towards their 401Ks. The workers will also enter into a union medical plan, with set rates for the life of the contract, Lake said.

“We feel we won this and they learned that they made a big mistake,” he said.

All 113 employees will not be returning to work, however. Lake said about 10 employees who could not go without health care during the lockout found employment elsewhere.

“It’s a real shame that they lost experienced help,” he said. “They will be going back to work with a smaller workforce. But, in time, all of this will work itself out.”

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