Lockout continues at HDI - WFSB 3 Connecticut

Lockout continues at HDI

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The lockout at HDI continued on Thursday. (WFSB) The lockout at HDI continued on Thursday. (WFSB)
MANCHESTER, CT (WFSB) -

For the second day, workers at Hartford Distributors Inc. in Manchester were not allowed back to work after failed contract negotiations.

Now, the union said it is taxpayers that will be footing the bill for this protest. 

The Teamsters Local 1035 has been in negotiations over its contract, which expired on April 30. The union said they have met with the owner of HDI, but no agreement had been reached as of Thursday evening. 

The union representation said all their members want to do is stop picketing and return back to work

“It’s not us,” Chris Roos with Teamster Local 1035 said. “We want to work but the company won't allow us into the building.”  

On Wednesday morning, Teamster Local 1035 said the doors to the company were locked around 7 a.m. and left all 120 employees out of work.  It’s all because of a contract dispute between HDI and their employees. 

“There's drivers and warehousemen,” Roos said. “The drivers obviously deliver the beer in the package stores and the warehousemen load the truck the night before.”

Since Wednesday morning, the union has protested around the clock. At times on Thursday, things got testy as protestors blocked temporary truck operators from getting in the door. 

“My members feels like they have been betrayed. We did everything we could to keep this business afloat,” Roos said. “We gave them a 2 year extension in 2013. They picked up in some new products in 2015 and we gave them another extension.”

For each day these employees, the union said it will be treated like a layoff, which means the state and taxpayers will end up footing the bill to pay these workers. However, early Thursday afternoon it seems there was some progress.

“We just came back from meeting with them again. We gave them a counter offer,” Roos said. “They gave us a counter offer.”

It’s been almost six years since a former employee shot and killed 8 HDI employees then turned the gun on himself. Some of these protestors said they feel they have supported the company through its darkest days and now feel the company has turned its back on them. 

“We were ready and able to continue working and they're not allowing us too,” Roos said.

The lawyer for HDI offered to extend the existing contract of Teamster Local 1035 while negotiations continued this week.

“This extension would have prohibited the Union from striking and HOI from locking out employees. The Union rejected this offer out of hand,” the company’s lawyer Edward F. O'Donnell said in a statement on Thursday.  

The union said if they're not back to work, they plan on taking their protest to public in hopes of boycotting their products.

O'Donnell said he respects Roos, but added his “comment that replacement employees were likely to commit murder is absurd and needlessly incendiary.”

All involved parties met on Thursday and plan to meet again, likely on Monday.

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