BELMAR — A Jersey Shore mayor has put a major event in the middle of a labor dispute.

"Because of a lock out of their employees, Shore Point Distributors will not be permitted to sell beer at the NJ Seafood Festival in Belmar," Mayor Matt Doherty said in a message on his Facebook and Twitter accounts, and they will be "prohibited from attending and selling their product. In addition, I am calling on all bars and liquor stores in Belmar to boycott Shore Point products until the lock out ends and they settle the contract dispute with their employees," Doherty said in his message.

According to Teamsters Local 701, the union representing Freehold-based Shore Point's workers, 113 members were locked out on April 30 after negotiations broke down over pensions, a proposed wage freeze and health insurance. The company distributes several brands of beer and liquor to 8 New Jersey counties including Burlington, Hunterdon, Mercer, Middlesex, Monmouth, Ocean, Somerset and Warren counties. Some of the brands handled by the company include Coors, Miller, Pabst, Yuengling, Molson, Moosehead, Crafthouse Cocktails, Ron Diaz and Angry Orchard.

Doherty told New Jersey 101.5 he spoke to the owner of Shore Point and refunded their $20,000 fee on Friday.  "I didn't think that we as a community in good conscience could host a company to sell beer to middle class and working class families while they're locking those same types out of their jobs,"  Doherty said. "We need to take a stand on behalf of the same people that make up our community and come to the Seafood Festival.":

He said  that several small microbreweries have contacted him about filling the void left by the absence of Shore Point.

Shore Point's offices were closed on Sunday and was not accepting phone messages.

Doherty said that with the Memorial Day weekend three weeks away and beer consumption expected to increase he called upon all Belmar bars and liquor store to boycott Shore Point products as well as his fellow Jersey Shore mayors. "This is an opportunity for Shore town mayors to become really relevant on behalf of the communities that make up the shore itself," Doherty

Shore Assemblyman Dave Rible (R) on his official Facebook page said that he met with members of the union who expressed concern over Shore Point's use of out-of-state drivers as replacement workers. In addition, they raised a number of issues about some of the questionable tactics being utilized by their employer.

The Seafood Festival is a free, three-day event that starts Friday, May 19 and runs through Sunday, May 21 and is expected to draw thousands of hungry visitors a week before the Memorial Day Weekend and the unofficial start of summer.

Contact reporter Dan Alexander at Dan.Alexander@townsquaremedia.com

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