US: Miller pension freeze could trigger strike action
Milwaukee-based Miller Brewing, the second-largest brewer in the US, could face strike action within weeks, according to Judy Burnick, business manager for the Office and Professional Employees International Union Local 35 in Milwaukee.
She told just-drinks that the proposals would save the company as much as US$30m, while workers from other unions in the US have escaped such a freeze and received extra benefits.
"The issue for us is the pension plan because most of our members are women and over the age of 50; in the next ten years, 90-100 of the workers will be eligible for retirement," Burnick said. Miller has reportedly instead offered the workers a $2 an hour savings plan.
Earlier this year, Miller faced the threat of strike action at three breweries over healthcare payments but struck deals that gave workers a pay increase and a cut in employee healthcare contributions.
SABMiller revealed last week (9 November) that Miller Brewing had continued to be hit by price competition and increases in commodity and energy prices in the US during the first half of the year.
Revenues in North America fell 1% to US$2.6bn for the six months to 30 September, compared to $2.7bn during the same period of 2005.
Officials at Miller Brewing were not available for comment when just-drinks went to press.
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