Anheuser-Busch avoids strike in deal with union

AB InBev’s Anheuser-Busch narrowly avoided a strike by reaching a tentative agreement on Wednesday with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, the union representing its manufacturing workers.

The new contract secured greater job security for 5,000 workers at Anheuser-Busch plants, which includes brewers, packagers and production employees, according to the Teamsters. The agreement included wage increases of $8 an hour, a $2,500 ratification bonus, increased pension contributions, restored retirement benefits and 8 weeks of paid vacation, the press release from Teamsters said.

“Anheuser-Busch knew our members were serious and prepared to do whatever it would take to get a fair agreement. After a long day and a longer campaign, we’ve reached an agreement that sets a new high standard for the brewing industry,” said Sean M. O’Brien, the Teamsters’ general president, in a statement.

In an emailed statement, Anheuser-Busch said the pending contract rewards its workers while still setting the brewer up for future success.

“This tentative agreement builds even further upon our existing industry-leading package of wages, healthcare, and retirement benefits, and it includes significant commitments to job security,” an Anheuser-Busch spokesperson said.

While the union will not be picketing at AB InBev plants, the strike at a Molson Coors plant in Fort Worth, Texas continues. In its statement, the Teamsters pressured Molson Coors to cede more benefits to its workers after the successful negotiations between the union and Anheuser-Busch.

“Teamsters continue to hold the line at Molson Coors in Texas for a fair contract, but Molson Coors should pay close attention to the bar we’ve set today for brewery workers across the country,” O’Brien said.

The Coors Light brewer continues to make alcohol products at the striking plants after it enlisted salaried employees to move forward with production. At a conference in Boca Raton, Florida last week, Molson Coors CEO Gavin Hattersley told investors the company is optimistic about its ability to continue operating through the strike.

The Anheuser-Busch labor agreement comes as the company regroups after losing market share in the beer category to competitors like Molson Coors in the last year, following the conservative boycott of staple beer Bud Light.