Anheuser-Busch has reached an agreement with the union, the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, for a five-year contract covering approximately 7,500 employees at the company's 12 US breweries.

The proposed contract calls for wage increases in each year of the contract. If the union membership ratifies the contract on the first vote and the results are in by December 1, Teamster-represented employees will receive a $1,000 signing bonus and a renewal of the company's contractual commitment to keep all 12 breweries open throughout the life of the new agreement.

In a statement A-B said, national and local Teamsters leadership have unanimously recommended that its members ratify the tentative agreement. The current contract expires Feb. 29, 2004.

"Our tentative agreement contains a compensation package that ranks among the best in all of American industry, while enabling Anheuser-Busch to continue to operate efficiently and uphold our responsibility to our shareholders," said Mark T. Bobak, vice president, corporate human resources, Anheuser-Busch. "From the beginning, the parties had professional and timely discussions of all issues."

The tentative agreement calls for wage increases of 65 cents per hour in year one, 60 cents per hour in years two, three and four, and 55 cents per hour in year five. The tentative agreement provides for the maintenance of an excellent health care package with no employee- paid premiums in company-sponsored plans and pension increases of 14 percent for defined benefit plans.

"Maintaining health care benefits is an increasingly significant portion of our total compensation package," Bobak said. "More and more employees are seeing their health care benefits reduced at other companies in the United States."