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J.J. Taylor accuses striking beer delivery workers of 'street theater distractions'

Local Teamsters called for a public boycott of several beer brands J.J. Taylor supplies.

The dispute between beer distribution company J.J. Taylor and its striking delivery drivers is intensifying, with the company accusing union leaders of using "street theater distractions."

It comes after Teamsters Local 792 members issued a call for businesses and consumers to boycott 14 beer brands J.J. Taylor is responsible for delivering in Minnesota

It comes amid a dispute between J.J. Taylor and delivery workers about the company's plans to scrap two-man delivery teams in favor of solo routes, which the union says would put workers' health at risk by requiring them to haul kegs on their own.

Related:

– Here is why beer delivery drivers are striking in Minnesota.

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But J.J. Taylor Minnesota president Chris Morton contacted BMTN on Wednesday, offering "truths" about the labor dispute.

"By calling for boycotts and using street-theater distractions, the union puts local breweries and retailers into the middle of an issue that belongs at the bargaining table with good-faith negotiations," Morton said.

Morton says his company has been running solo keg-and-packaged beer runs for "more than a year," and it refuses to deliver to establishments that it deems unsafe to employees.

The practice of lifting kegs is "nothing new," he continues, and says the company provides dollies and has a full-time "ergonomics expert" to help meet its safety responsibilities towards staff.

It goes on to accuse Local 792 of "creating" the safety issue, claiming the real reason for the strike is "based on seniority and work rule issues rather than safety."

Local 792 has been calling for the boycott of J.J. Taylor suppliers, which includes national brewer MillerCoors, and local breweries such as Summit and Schell's.

The company has previously said it's switching to one-person teams as a cost-cutting effort, as its major domestic beer customers are losing out to upstart craft brewers.

It's offering workers a significant pay rise, saying its drivers collect on average around $70,000-a-year, in exchange for taking on the new routes.

CityPages reports that bars who have agreed not to sell J.J. Taylor-delivered beer includes Porky's in St. Paul and Grumpy's in Northeast Minneapolis, while several liquor stores have placed signs on its chillers urging customers not to buy the boycott beers.

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