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Teamsters ratify AB InBev deal

A week after brewing giant AB InBev reached a tentative agreement with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters to avert strike action, the union’s membership has now voted overwhelmingly in favour of the five-year contract.

Last week it was announced that a “tentative collective bargaining agreement” had been reached between the Teamsters leadership and AB InBev, whose US operation, Anheuser-Busch, owns brands including Budweiser, Stella Artois and Hoegaarden.

Had negotiations not been successful, strike action would have been taken by the 5,000 Teamsters members working at AB InBev breweries in the US at the beginning of March, which could have caused a major beer drought.

On Tuesday 5 March, 86% of the Teamsters polled were in favour of the agreement after three days of in-person voting.

The deal, which will last until 2029, brings various changes, including a wage increase of US$8 an hour (including a US$4 per hour raise in the first year), a US$2,500 ratification bonus for every member, an end to two-tier health care, increased maximum vacation accrual to eight paid weeks, and the restoration of retirement benefits for active and retired Teamsters members.

Teamsters general president Sean M. O’Brien said of the ratification: “In ratifying a strong new contract at Anheuser-Busch, Teamsters have clawed back concessions from earlier agreements, protected retirees and invested in their pensions, and will be taking home the higher wages we’ve fought for. It’s a significant victory for brewery workers in the United States.”

“This agreement provides the same high-quality health care for all rank-and-file Teamsters and protects every member’s job,” O’Brien continued. “Cheers to the workers who stayed in the fight to win a contract that sets a new standard for everyone in the brewing industry.

A statement from Anheuser-Busch said that it was “pleased” that the ratification had been supported, which, it claimed, “continues to recognise and reward our teams while also positioning the company for long-term success.”

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