August 1, 2008: A new report speculates that Anheuser-Busch management may seek an early contract before the InBev takeover even takes effect.
The Teamster contract covers 7,000 Teamsters at A-B, and it expires on March 1, 2009.
Talks on the new contract are scheduled for this August in Cincinnati.
A-B Teamsters are still reeling from the news that their company is being bought by Brazilian-Belgian brewing giant InBev.
The new company will be the largest brewing company in the world.
$1.5 Billion in Cuts
InBev CEO Carlos Brito has a reputation for brutal cost-cutting. The company has announced that they plan to shave A-B’s expenses by $1.5 billion by 2011.
Most of the early cuts will hit management and administration. The new owners have pledged they will not shut down any of A-B’s twelve North American breweries.
But unions in Belgium, Canada, and Brazil warn that InBev takes a tough approach at the bargaining table. Canadian brewery workers who work for Labatt found themselves under the gun thirteen years ago when InBev bought the Canadian brewer Labatt.
In response, they formed an alliance of unions, the Canadian Brewery Workers Alliance (CBWA). This was necessary to build unity and strength among the seven different unions at the seven Labatt breweries across Canada.
U.S. Teamster locals at Anheuser-Busch and the IBT have a good ally and information source on InBev in this alliance.
Talks in August
The InBev takeover will not go through before negotiations start, and our union will still be dealing with current A-B management.
A report in the St. Louis Beacon talked to several industry and labor experts who expect A-B to push for an early deal.
Some members hope that an early deal, before the takeover is completed, would keep InBev management out of talks. The Beacon report quotes other experts who expect InBev to play a big role at talks, even if it’s not at the table.
It’s up to the International to get members information about the union and company proposals. We need to be informed and united.
The International has launched a new website to keep members informed about the takeover, and they reached out to other brewery unions in other countries.
TDU will do its part to make sure that members get all the information they need to be involved and win a strong contract.
What do you think? Call TDU at (313) 842-2600 or send an email to info [at] tdu.org and share your comments.