Molson Coors workers strike at US brewery

“The strike shuts down production at the only brewery that services the entire Western region of the US with major Molson Coors products” – Teamsters trade union.

Eszter Racz February 21 2024

Workers at one of beer giant Molson Coors’ US factories have been on strike since Saturday (17 February), causing production to halt.

An unspecified number of employees of the facility in Fort Worth, Texas, voted to strike over pay after negotiations failed, the Teamsters trade union said.

“The strike shuts down production at the only brewery that services the entire Western region of the US with major Molson Coors products,” Teamsters said.

The union said the company offered “less than a $1 per hour wage increase for the majority of Teamsters members”.

Negotiations have come to a halt over a three-year contract for 420 workers who make, package and warehouse the company’s beer and beverage brands including Coors Light, Topo Chico, Simply, Pabst, and Yuengling.

“Local 997 is seeking pay raises that reflect the impact of inflation over the term of the expired contract and the elimination of two-tiered health care and retirement benefits,” Teamsters said in a statement on Saturday.

The union added it filed “numerous unfair labour practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board over the company’s bad faith bargaining”.

Teamsters general president Sean M O’Brien said union members “are taking this fight to the streets”, and the trade organisation will “hold the line until [its] members get what they have earned”.

“We’re not taking the disrespect, we’re not accepting the crumbs, and we’re not making concessions,” O’Brien said.

“As long as the profits keep flowing to the top, Molson Coors doesn’t give a damn if the workers inside its breweries can afford to take care of their families.

“They put pennies on the table for the workers behind these products. They want to strip working families of their health care. The greed and abuse from Molson Coors must end now,” he said.

Molson Coors reported making six years’ worth of profit growth in 2023.

Announcing its annual results last week, the brewer said it expected to continue a “very fast start” to the year throughout 2024.

“I know a number of you remain sceptical of our ability to grow this year. We were sceptical in 2022 and also in 2023 but the numbers don’t lie. We delivered what we said we would. So, for 2024, here’s what I will say: we are committed to growth,” CEO Gavin Hattersley told analysts during an earnings call.

Molson Coors’ chief communications officer Adam Collins said, “While we respect the Union’s right to strike, we have strong contingency plans and are well equipped to ensure consumers will be able to buy their favorite Molson Coors products.”

“We are already brewing, packaging and shipping from the Fort Worth brewery, our five other U.S. breweries have extra production capacity and we deliberately built up distributor inventories across the country,” said Collins.

“While the union has not responded to our last offer, which exceeds local market rates, we remain committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to everyone,” he said.

Molson Coors declined to disclose the latest pay offer it gave to employees.

The drinks maker had also declined to comment on the allegations from Teamsters that the business spent $50m on advertising in the fourth quarter” of financial year 2023.

In October, the brewer said gains in the US last year, fuelled by Bud Light owner Anheuser-Busch InBev’s partnership fiasco with Dylan Mulvaney, were now “structural in nature”.

Molson Coors forecast low single-digit net sales growth for 2024 versus last year, with mid-single-digit increase in underlying income before tax on a constant currency basis, which Nadine Sarwat, an analyst at AllianceBernstein, described as “reasonable”.

Last year December, 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.

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