Press-Register: Alabama Coke Workers Vote to Strike
July 14, 2008: Bottling and delivery workers at Coca-Cola Bottling Co. Consolidated's Mobile-area operation were set to go on strike after Teamsters flatly rejected a contract offer from the Charlotte, N.C., company.
Union members gathered this evening at the Teamsters hall on Broad Street and voted down the contract 176 to 15, said Jim Gookins, secretary-treasurer of Teamsters Local 991, which represents about 275 of 300 Coke workers in southwest Alabama and southeast Mississippi.
Click here to read more at Press-Register.
St. Louis Post Dispatch: InBev, A-B Talk Over Deal
July 11, 2008: Anheuser-Busch Cos. has opened talks to sell itself to the Belgian brewer InBev in a friendly deal, according to news reports.
Citing people briefed on the matter said Thursday night, the New York Times said InBev had indicated that it would be willing to pay more than the $65 a share it had originally offered for the St. Louis-based brewer. People briefed on the deal cautioned that the talks might still break down. The article did not name the Times' sources or their affiliation to either InBev or Anheuser-Busch.
Click here to read more in the St. Louis Post Dispatch.
InBev’s Brutal Corporate Culture
July 9, 2008: If InBev succeeds in taking over Anheuser-Busch, the beverage giant may lay off employees and replace full-time jobs with part-time jobs.
According to an in-depth report by Reuters, InBev’s plans for cuts go beyond the cuts already announced by A-B management.
The report described InBev’s corporate culture as “brutal.”
Click here to read the full report from Reuters.
Coke Strike Spreads in Southern California
July 3, 2008: On Wednesday, over 600 drivers and warehouse Teamsters in San Diego went out on strike against Coca Cola Enterprises (CCE) to support Coke strikers in Oceanside, Calif.
The Oceanside Teamsters, new members of Local 683, walked off the job on Monday for a first contract that matches the pay, benefits, and standards of other Coke Teamsters in Southern California.
Coke opened the new distribution facility in Oceanside last year, and tried to keep it nonunion. Coke Teamsters in San Diego were laid off while the company boosted production in Oceanside.
Employees at Oceanside make $12 an hour compared to $19 and even more in other Teamster facilities.
Last August, Oceanside workers voted overwhelmingly to join the Teamsters—and have been trying to negotiate a fair contract ever since.
Under Coke's offer, Teamsters in Oceanside would take home less than other SoCal Coke Teamsters, earn less in benefits, and would not be guaranteed 40 hours work each week. They would not get up to $19 an hour for five years.
Local 683 recommended the contract. But members rejected the deal by a vote of 54 to 2.
The Joint Council and International Union sanctioned strike action—and picket lines are being extended. Plans are in the works to extend the picket lines to Cathedral City, Orange County, Rancho Cucamonga, Downey, and Los Angeles.
Local 683 is announcing a boycott of Coca-Cola products today to hit Coke's sales and public image right before the July 4th weekend.
Coke workers in Oceanside set this in motion by standing up and voting Coke's offer down. The power of Teamster solidarity can finish the job.
St. Louis Post Dispatch: InBev Sweetens Up Offer—for A-B Execs
July 2, 2008: Anheuser-Busch Cos. executives may fret about InBev's proposed takeover, but a deal would mean a big payout for senior managers.
August A. Busch IV stands to pocket $31 million in severance benefits if Anheuser-Busch agrees to InBev's $65-a-share and he loses his job.
Click here to read more at stltoday.com.
A-B Rejects Bid, Aims to Cut Jobs
June 27, 2008: The board of Anheuser-Busch has rejected InBev’s bid to purchase the company, but the takeover is far from over.
Yesterday in court, InBev filed a suit claiming that A-B shareholders can remove all 13 board members at the brewer’s annual board meeting. The suit is the likely first step in a hostile takeover bid.
Meanwhile, A-B management announced that they intend to cut 1,300 jobs by offering early retirement buyouts.
St. Louis Post Dispatch: A-B Board Rejects InBev Offer
St. Louis Business Journal: A-B Cuts to Include Up to 1,300 Early Retirements
Anheuser Busch Plans Cuts
June 26, 2007: The Anheuser-Busch board will reject the takeover bid by InBev, but Bud Teamsters aren’t out of danger yet.
Teamsters were already worried that if Belgian brewer InBev bought Bud, their working standards and benefits would be on the line.
The New York Times reports today that A-B will launch its own restructuring plan to cut $500 million in costs annually.
And InBev isn’t giving up either. The Belgian beer giant has lined up funding for a possible hostile takeover of A-B.
Read the full story in the New York Times.
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Union Gets Grim Report on InBev
June 23, 2008: Union leaders representing InBev workers in Brazil, Canada and Europe have a simple message for Anheuser-Busch employees if InBev takes control of the St. Louis-based brewery: Watch out.
"They should worry, because the production is going to be concentrated and the work force reduced," says Siderlei Oliveira, president of Brazil's 1.2 million-member food workers union, citing a reduction in Brazil's brewery workers to 13,000 from 23,000 since the 1990s. "This is the strategy that they have."
Click here to read more at stltoday.com.
Takeover Bid Brews Trouble for Bud Teamsters
June 20, 2008: Teamster members at Anheuser-Busch are worried about the future of their jobs after Belgian beer giant InBev announced its plans for a takeover on June 11.
Anheuser-Busch is the largest beer maker in the United States. InBev and A-B are two of the four largest brewers in the world—and together they would be the biggest, by far.
InBev already owns the Canadian brewer Labatt’s, another Teamster employer.
Local 1149 member Katie Brutcher says members are worried about their jobs: “InBev doesn’t have a good reputation. They buy companies and then put the burden on their new employees to pay off all the debt they take on.
“We don’t want to give up our working conditions or our benefits for them.” Brutcher is a skilled-trades Teamsters at AB’s Baldwinsville, N.Y. brewery.
Industry analysts agree: Ann Gilpin, an analyst for Morningstar, calls the people who run InBev “a bunch of machete-wielding investment bankers who go around and cut costs wherever they can.”
The takeover drew high-level criticism almost as soon as it was announced. Both of Missouri’s U.S. Senators and the state’s governor expressed concern over the deal. One Senator is asking the Justice Department to scrutinize the deal.
But anti-trust law probably can’t block the takeover, since most of InBev’s market is outside of the U.S.
InBev is offering $65 a share, and many shareholders are likely to take the deal. A-B stocks were trading at only $58.35 before InBev announced the move.
The founding Busch family still runs the company, but they only own 3.5 percent of the company’s stock—not nearly enough to stop a takeover. Billionaire investor Warren Buffet, who owns 5 percent of A-B, has endorsed the deal.
New Contract in 2009
Talks for the next contract at Anheuser-Busch start next year. If the takeover goes through, that could give InBev a chance to go after our Teamster wages, pensions and benefits if members are not organized and prepared.
“It’s up to us to stop corporate greed,” Brutcher said. “We have to get ready now to hold the line to protect our jobs and our benefits—and to save the pride we have in what we brew.”
Now is the time for members to get informed and organized, and Teamsters for a Democratic Union can help. TDU sponsors workshops on how to get members involved in winning a strong contract.
Contact us for advice on how to get other members involved in the union, or to set up a workshop in your local.
BNA Daily Labor Report: Pepsi Drivers Sue for Unpaid Inspections, Paperwork
April 18, 2008: Eleven truck drivers filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia April 9 against the Pepsi Bottling Group Inc. and New Bern Transport Inc. for compensation for time they spend doing paperwork and inspecting their trucks (Carter v. New Bern Transport Inc., E.D. Va., No. 4:08-cv-00042, complaint filed 4/9/08).
The plaintiffs, who now work or have worked within the past three years at the Pepsi Bottling Group's facility in Newport News, Va., allege that the companies, which jointly employ them, have engaged in willful, ongoing violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Gilbert Carter, the lead plaintiff, and the other drivers assert that they begin their workday by filling out paperwork, which requires approximately 15 minutes, and then conducting a pre-trip inspection of their tractor-trailers, which requires another 15 minutes. Drivers who find problems must wait while their trucks are repaired. The drivers are not paid for this time.
After completing their deliveries, drivers must inspect their trucks again and re-fuel them. These tasks require approximately 30 minutes, the complaint charges.
Pay for Downtime
The drivers are paid $0.395 for each mile that they drive. They also are paid an hourly rate of $8.50 for downtime, which is defined as time during which a driver is unable to perform his duties because of a delay that is not under his control.
However, the collective bargaining agreement between the employers and the International Brotherhood of Teamsters Local 822, which represents the drivers, stipulates that the companies do not have to pay the drivers for their pretrip and post-trip inspections or the first half hour of their daily downtime.
The complaint estimates that each plaintiff "is unlawfully deprived of an average of sixty minutes per day of uncompensated services." The drivers seek reimbursement for these tasks at their downtime rate of $8.50 per hour and back pay for the three years before the lawsuit was filed.
They also seek attorneys' fees and liquidated damages equal to the amount of unpaid wages.
Jeff Dahncke, public relations director for the Pepsi Bottling Group, declined to discuss the case, citing the company's policy against commenting on pending litigation.
Representatives of New Bern Transport could not be reached for comment.