Good Night Mr. Lewis: Open for Boozeness?

The liquor strike that’s haunted the club/bar/restaurant industry since Halloween will probably come to an end sometime today. The Drivers Union at Empire Merchants, the last entity not to settle, will “most likely vote today to return to work,” says a source familiar with negotiations. Southern Wine and Spirits workers never went on strike after a settlement was reached that included a “me too” agreement. Raises were given with the stipulation that if the Empire Drivers get a better deal, then Southern will match that deal.

The unions at Southern did make a very interesting compromise, though. Every summer, the distributor would close down for two weeks, and again for one week in the winter. Hospitality businesses would stock up in advance of these shutdowns, which have always been annoying. Under the new agreement, drivers will take vacations throughout the year and business won’t be shut down for the winter or summer breaks. At Empire, the sales force settled early on. Management is attempting to downsize the drivers, and have them kick in a bit for health insurance, but my source says there has been “considerable movement in talks,” and he categorized it “80/20 that it’s over this afternoon.”

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