SAN FRANCISCO — In the latest escalation of the 6-week-old California wine strike, a spokesman for the wine makers announced Monday that management would "permanently replace" about 2,200 striking employees unless they report back to work within a week.
This latest development in the bitter battle between the 12-member Winery Employers Assn. and the Distillery, Wine and Allied Workers Union followed labor calls over the weekend for a national consumer boycott against the wineries. These wineries produce half of California's wine, and include Gallo, the world's largest wine maker.
Robert Lieber, attorney for the employers association, termed the boycott "a new level of industrial combat," saying the strike was no longer "a conventional labor dispute, but nuclear war." He said he was informing federal mediators that the association would not return to the bargaining table "for the foreseeable future."
Robert Fogg, union spokesman and president of Local 186, said he was not surprised at the employer's "severe threat" to replace striking workers, and he vowed to continue the boycott. He said he might file a complaint with the National Labor Relations Board.
Workers Monday were on picket lines from Napa Valley to Bakersfield. The union said 98 members have crossed the picket lines.
The struck wineries include Christian Brothers, Charles Krug, Franzia, Almaden, Vie-Del, Bronco, Lamont, Gibson and Fromm & Sichel as well as Gallo.