Brewing, Cideries & Spirits  February 2, 2024

Teamsters: Anheuser-Busch strike ‘appears unavoidable’

WASHINGTON — Leadership at the International Brotherhood of Teamsters union said this week that a strike at Anheuser-Busch Cos. LLC operations, including the beer giant’s Fort Collins brewery, “appears unavoidable” as negotiations have thus far failed to produce a new labor contract. 

Teamsters general president Sean O’Brien, according to the union, has demanded that AB “deliver its last, best, and final offer, after the company wasted another negotiating session putting forth an unacceptable proposal that threatens to kill Teamster jobs by closing breweries and permanently laying off Teamsters systemwide.”

The labor contract expires on Feb. 29, and the Teamsters authorized a strike in December 2023. 

“The halting of beer production at Anheuser-Busch’s U.S. breweries appears imminent and unavoidable,” O’Brien said in a prepared statement. “This company has got to get its priorities straight. With its actions during negotiations this week, Anheuser-Busch made clear it is hellbent on destroying American jobs. They can throw billions of dollars at Super Bowl ads and Wall Street, but they can’t seem to bargain a contract that respects the Teamsters who do the real work inside these breweries. They have a harsh reality awaiting them when Anheuser-Busch breweries are empty, and Teamsters are on the streets.”

Anheuser-Busch did not respond to requests for comment. 

Union workers at AB — who brew, package, and ship beer, maintain breweries and equipment, and care for the company’s Clydesdale horses — “are united nationwide. Our members are only getting stronger and more unified with every shameless and insulting ‘offer’ this company has the gall to come up with,” Jeff Padellaro, director of the Teamsters brewery, bakery and soft drink conference, said in a statement. “I want to be very clear that our members will not work a minute past the Feb. 29 expiration of our current contract without an agreement in hand that is worthy of their labor.”

Last summer, Anheuser-Busch laid off hundreds of employees nationally amid declining sales for its Bud Light brand.

Anheuser-Busch CEO Brendan Whitworth said in July 2023 that the company “took the very difficult but necessary decision to eliminate a number of positions across our corporate organization.

‘While we never take these decisions lightly, we want to ensure that our organization continues to be set for future long-term success,’ he said.

The Wall Street Journal and other outlets reported at the time that the cuts will affect corporate and marketing positions and will spare brewery and warehouse staff.

The Teamsters union delivers ultimatum to Anheuser-Busch in contract negotiations.

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