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AB InBev clashes with union over negotiations claim

Global brewer AB InBev said it is continuing negotiations with its workers in order to avoid strike action, but the union has responded by denying that this is the case.

In a recent statement, the beer giant’s communications bosses insisted that the firm has been working to “secure a contract” that “recognises and rewards” its employees “since the bargaining cycle started in September”. It also outlined that as “a precautionary measure” it had a plan to ensure it could continue to supply beer amidst the negotiations.

Anheuser-Busch director of corporate communications Kaitlin Craig said: “Since the bargaining cycle started in September, Anheuser-Busch has consistently and diligently worked to secure a contract that recognizes and rewards our hardworking employees and prioritises long-term security for the best jobs in the beer industry; as a precautionary measure, we have a robust continuity plan in place to ensure we will continue bringing our industry-leading brands to our valued customers and consumers across the country.

Despite these claims, the workers’ union said this was inaccurate and refuted the claims via KTVI highlighting that the statement AB InBev had made was a complete prevarication.

Refuting the claims that discussions were ongoing and that AB InBev was in talks with its workers’ union to assist in getting past the issue, Teamsters assistant director of communications Kara Deniz responded: “Negotiations with us do not continue. The Teamsters are not in negotiations with Anheuser-Busch. We do not have any negotiation dates with this company.”

The news follows around 5,000 AB InBev employees in the Teamsters union lobbying for better pay and benefits, as well as job security, insisting that they are prepared to strike at 12 AB InBev breweries across the US.

AB InBev breweries that would be affected by the strikes are located in St. Louis, Los Angeles, California; Fairfield, California; Fort Collins, Colorado; Houston, Texas; Jacksonville, Florida; Cartersville, Georgia; Williamsburg, Virginia; Columbus, Ohio; Baldwinsville, New York; Newark, New Jersey; and Merrimack, New Hampshire.

Last December, 99% of AB inBev union members voted to approve a strike, while, earlier in February, the Teamsters union approved a doubling of strike pay for AB InBev Teamsters.

The Teamsters union claims that the global brewer has dragged its feet in negotiations and on 1 February reportedly asked the brewer to make its “last, best, and final offer” but is yet to hear back.

Irrespective of the workers’ dispute over pay, AB InBev as a company, still made US$32 billion in gross profits in 2023, a situation that has led Teamsters president, Sean O’Brien to accuse AB InBev of “corporate greed” . O-Brien stated that “Teamsters inside these breweries will not be left to drown” and urged AB InBev to “do the right thing” rather than “continue to burn hundreds of millions of dollars on massive sponsorships, stock buybacks, and CEO pay packages as it ignores the looming expiration” of the union’s contract.

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