A month-long strike against Bond Distributing Co., a firm tha distributes beer in Baltimore and Baltimore County, has ended.
Members of Teamsters Local 1010 yesterday voted 64-10 to accept the company's three-year contract proposal, but it may be some time before most of the union members can go back to work, according to Norman Buchsbaum, Bond's lawyer.
"We have few if any vacancies," he said.
Soon after the strike began on Aug. 11, Bond hired workers to permanently replace the 93 strikers. Although those new employees must complete a 45-day probation period, Buchsbaum said they cannot be fired as long as their work is satisfactory.
The lawyer said the workers who went on strike will be placed on a preferential hiring list on the basis of seniority with the company. They will be given jobs as openings occur in their former departments, but the positions won't necessarily be the same as their old jobs, he said.
James Glass, secretary-treasurer for the local, said the union would negotiate with the company today on the details of when and how the workers will return. The workers may be eligible for unemployment benefits until they are rehired, he said.
Glass said the union members "haven't felt like they won, but they haven't felt like they lost, either.
"I guess they feel like maybe there's another day to fight their battle," Glass said.
The strike was called after labor and management failed to reach an agreement on a new sales plan to change the jobs of the driver-salesmen. Under the former contract, drivers earned commissions on sales in addition to a salary. Under the new plan, which the union accepted, drivers will be paid a salary for delivering beer and receive a portion of commissions generated by sales made by other workers.
Buchsbaum said negotiations will resume tomorrow with Bond's competitor, Winner Distributing Co., which wants the same sales arrangement as Bond.
"The strike was a really unfortunate thing," Buchsbaum said. "The company is pleased it's over. We want to get this unhappiness behind us."
Another beer industry strike was settled this week when 2 members of Machinists Local 186 reached an agreement with Heileman Brewing Co. on a new wage contract. They returned to work yesterday morning.