Anheuser-Busch, Teamsters reach tentative agreement to avert strike

UPI
Anheuser-Busch, the nation's largest brewer, reached a tentative five-year contract agreement Wednesday with the Teamsters union to avert a strike at midnight Thursday, and keep 5,000 workers from walking off the job. The deal includes a 23% raise over the life of the contract. File photo by Bill Greenblatt/UPI

Feb. 29 (UPI) -- Anheuser-Busch, the nation's largest brewer and maker of Bud Light, reached a tentative five-year contract agreement Wednesday with the Teamsters union to avert a strike at midnight Thursday, and keep 5,000 workers from walking off the job at Anheuser-Busch breweries across the country.

"After a long day and a longer campaign, we've reached an agreement that sets a new high standard for the brewing industry," Teamsters President Sean O'Brien said in a statement Wednesday night.

The tentative deal, which was unanimously recommended by the Teamsters National Negotiating Committee, will raise members' wages by an average of 23%, with an immediate $4 an hour raise and an $8 an hour raise over the life of the contract.

The bargaining contract also gives every member a $2,500 signing bonus and an increased maximum vacation accrual to eight paid weeks. And the contract ends two-tier healthcare, providing all workers the same Teamsters healthcare coverage.

"Teamsters at Anheuser-Busch will have big pay raises, better benefits and job security under a strong agreement that benefits everyone," said Jeff Padellaro, director of the Teamsters, Brewery, Bakery and Soft Drink Conference.

Anheuser-Busch also praised the agreement in a statement Wednesday night, calling it a way "to recognize and reward the talent, commitment and hard work of our employees while also positioning the company for long-term success."

Wednesday's deal comes nearly two weeks after 400 Teamsters members walked off the job at Anheuser-Busch rival Molson Coors in Fort Worth, Texas.

"Molson Coors should pay close attention to the bar we've set today for brewery workers across the country," O'Brien said.

The deal also comes after the Anheuser-Busch Bud Light brand suffered last year during a conservative boycott, after the beer partnered with a transgender influencer.

Wednesday's tentative agreement will be shared with members before the ratification process, with a vote on the contract expected next week.

"Anheuser-Busch knew our members were serious and prepared to do whatever it would take to get a fair agreement," O'Brien said.

"Teamsters make beer, Teamsters make Anheuser-Busch successful, and our members deserve the best contract. That is what we fought for and won today."