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AB InBev faces workers strike action

The Teamsters union has authorised a strike at AB InBev to put pressure on the beer giant to renegotiate contract terms for its workforce.

The union told Fox Business that out of 5,000 members who work at 12 AB InBev breweries in the US, 99% voted to authorise a strike. This means that if the workers cannot secure a new labour contract raising wages, protecting jobs and securing benefits before the union’s contract expires on 29 February 2024, then strikes will take place and beer production will likely become affected.

Teamsters general president Sean O’Brien said: “Teamsters stand firm in our fight for the best contract at Anheuser-Busch, and this powerful strike vote proves it. Our members’ labour, talent, and sacrifice are what put Anheuser-Busch products on the shelf, and we are committed to getting a contract that rewards and recognises their hard work.”

O’Brien explained: “If Anheuser-Busch’s executives can’t get their act together to negotiate an agreement that respects workers, we will see them out on the streets,”

Last month, the union and AB InBev reached tentative agreements on ending tiered health care and restoring retiree health benefits, however the two sides have reportedly failed to negotiate on job security issues since mid-November.

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According to reports, the union told reporters how AB InBev’s recent announcement of “US$1 billion in stock buybacks to wealthy investors as it simultaneously ignores the need to protect good jobs”.

Jeff Padellaro, director of the Teamsters Brewery, Bakery, and Soft Drink Conference said: “Anheuser-Busch can’t kick this can down the road much longer. The Teamsters don’t want to be forced onto the picket line at any employer, but we are fully prepared to walk if Anheuser-Busch doesn’t get serious about negotiating a record contract that also protects good union jobs.”

In response to the situation, a spokesperson for AB InBev told reporters that it was aware of the situation and played down the issue as standard practise. The spokesperson said: “Anheuser-Busch is aware of the Teamsters’ strike authorisation vote, which is common during labour negotiations. We are committed to negotiating in good faith with the union to reach an agreement that recognises and rewards the talent, commitment, and drive of our employees.”

AB InBev, which owns brands including Budweiser and Bud Light, has seen sales slump over the past year and Bud Light has lost its long-standing title as the best-selling beer in the US to Modelo Especial, owned by Constellation Brands.

The US chief marketing officer for Anheuser-Busch, Benoit Garbe, recently resigned from the role with plans to leave the business at the end of the year following the company seeing its Bud Light brand plummet in sales.

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