A 12-day-old strike at an East Cambridge Budweiser distribution plant yesterday spilled onto the steps of Harvard's Busch Reisinger art museum and into the Cambridge City Council.
About 50 truck drivers and warehousemen from the August A. Busch Co. plant picketed outside the museum to show their sympathy for 16 of the distributor's non-union clerical employees who walked off their jobs on October 20.
The clerical workers took the job action in an attempt to speed up talks aimed at including the workers in the company's collective bargaining agreement. Local 122 contends that Busch has been dragging its feet in the negotiations.
The picketers were among 130 members of Teamsters Union Local 122 who are striking in support of the clerical workers. The clerical employees are seeking to be covered by Local 122's contract with the company.
The strike has also been supported by the Cambridge City Council which unanimously passed a resolution backing Local 122's position.
Picket organizers said yesterday they chose the 80-year old museum as a protest site because the Busch family contributed funds for its construction and operation.
"We couldn't go to St. Louis [where the firm is based], so we came here," said Robert McGoniagle, president of Local 122. "It's just a symbol for us, not a reflection on the museum itself--we don't want people to drink Bud, but they can see the artwork."
Picketers marched in front of the museum, and asked pedestrians "not to buy Bud in Boston."
Peter Nisbet, curator of the museum, said that neither the Busch family nor its beer company currently funds the museum's operations.
"It's only a name," Nisbet said, "I'm not sure I'd drink his beer just because his name is on my museum."
Aside from the issue of the strike itself, city councilors last night were concerned about the role the Cambridge police force was playing in the picketing.
Several councilors said they had seen large numbers of police and patrol cars at the strike site, and escorting the busloads of out-of-state employees that the Busch company had brought in to cross the picket lines.
"They're pulling policemen off our streets to send them to the picket line," said Councilor Thomas W. Danchy.
But Police Chief Anthony Paolillo responded that the officers on duty at 6 a.m. when the buses cross the picket lines are either working overtime for the department or in the case of 30 policemen, are hired by the company.