Union workers at Anheuser-Busch InBev (AB InBev) have voted to authorise a strike across the brewer’s 12 US breweries.
Teamsters, the US labour union, said around 99% of its members voted in favour of calling a strike as it looks for an agreement that “improves wages, protects jobs, and secures health care and retirement benefits” for 5,000 workers.
The Bud Light brewer had agreed to end tiered health care and restore retiree health benefits in November. However, Teamsters said AB InBev had delayed negotiating on “important job security issues” since November.
There are no dates set for negotiations. AB InBev Teamsters workers recently rallied in New Hampshire, California and Florida.
“Teamsters stand firm in our fight for the best contract at Anheuser-Busch, and this powerful strike vote proves it. Our members’ labour, talent, and sacrifice are what put Anheuser-Busch products on the shelf, and we are committed to getting a contract that rewards and recognises their hard work,” said Teamsters general president Sean O’Brien.
“If Anheuser-Busch’s executives can’t get their act together to negotiate an agreement that respects workers, we will see them out on the streets.”
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An AB InBev spokesperson told Just Drinks: “Anheuser-Busch is aware of the Teamsters’ strike authorisation vote, which is common during labour negotiations. We are committed to negotiating in good faith with the union to reach an agreement that recognises and rewards the talent, commitment and drive of our employees.”
The brewer revealed at the end of October that third-quarter sales in North America missed forecasts, a sign of the continued impact of the Bud Light controversy earlier this year.
In the three months to the end of September, revenue was down 12.7% organically at $3.86bn versus the consensus forecast of a 10% decline. In the US specifically, AB InBev’s third-quarter revenue declined 13.5%,
Although the Budweiser owner said revenue per hectolitre was up 4.9% “driven by revenue management initiatives”.
In the previous quarter – to the end of June – AB InBev’s revenue in the US dropped 10.5%. Revenue per hectolitre was up 5.2%.