Hartford Distributors Goes Back To Work, Eight Days After Massacre
Francis Fazio's casket is carried to the hearse at St. Stanislaus Catholic Church in Bristol, Conn. on Aug. 10, 2010. Fazio's funeral is the last one of the eight victims who were shot and killed a week ago by former employee Omar Thorton at Hartford Distributors, Inc. in Manchester. (JOHN LONG, SPECIAL TO THE COURANT / August 10, 2010)
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Teamsters Local 1035 secretary-treasurer and principal officer Chris Roos said the delivery-truck drivers want to return to work to get past the carnage caused by Omar Thornton, who shot and killed eight employees before killing himself.
"They want to get back to work because they don't want this guy to beat them," Roos said.
Hartford Distributors President Ross Hollander said "the overwhelming number of our employees have expressed a desire to get back to work and deliver beer."
"We're going to meet on the driveway and attack the building together . . . we're going to turn on the forklifts and get it rolling," Hollander said.
The workers gathered at the end of the driveway leading up to the building. Three people spoke, including Hollander. The workers held a moment of silence, then walked into the building and returned to work.
The ceremony was a closed event for workers and employees.
Joining the workers will be some volunteers from other companies and retirees of the Manchester Budweiser distributorship. Retirees plan to wear work clothes and offer support, whether that means riding along in a truck or whatever else is needed, said John Hollis, 68, a retired Hartford Distributors employee and Teamsters' legislative liaison.
Grief counselors will be on site for employees for as long people need it, Roos said.
Hollander's son, Brett Hollander, the company's marketing director, said, "Nobody is going to be required to go in the building . . . we're all going to be there for each other."
The Teamsters are organizing a memorial service and fundraiser to be held Sunday at 1 p.m. at the Bushnell Center for the Performing Arts in Hartford. Gov. M. Jodi Rell has been invited to speak along with U.S. Rep. John Larson, D-1st District.
Hollis said Teamsters General President James P. Hoffa donated $50,000 Friday on behalf of the national union to Local 1035 as a fund for families of the victims. Hoffa is planning to attend the event Sunday, as is David Peacock, president of Anheuser Busch.
Teamster tractor-trailers will be coming in from all over New England, lining Capital Avenue across from the Bushnell, and will be joined by Hartford Distributors beer delivery trucks.
Courant business editor Dan Haar contributed to this article.