Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teamsters May Strike at Anheuser

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Teamsters May Strike at Anheuser

Article excerpt

Union employees of Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. voted yesterday to

reject the brewer's final offer for a new national contract and

are preparing for a possible strike against the world's largest

beermaker.

Members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters voted

5,447 to 1,652 to reject a five-year contract from the St. Louis

brewer, the Teamsters announced after counting mail-in ballots

in Alexandria, Va.

However, union leaders later told Anheuser-Busch officials they

want to resume talks before deciding on a strike, union and

Anheuser-Busch officials said last night.

Since the two sides began negotiating a new contract in

November, the union has claimed Anheuser-Busch wants to

eliminate hundreds of full-time jobs.

Anheuser-Busch and the Teamsters also are divided over issues

including job security, the company's ability to change

practices at breweries, grievance policies and changes in

drug-testing procedures.

Company officials remain concerned about an absenteeism rate

that is twice that of other manufacturing companies.

The last time Anheuser-Busch employees set up picket lines was

in 1976. The strike lasted 101 days.

Anheuser-Busch has about 8,000 union employees in 12 breweries

across the country, including 600 in the Jacksonville plant. The

proposed contract offers to pay employees more than $23 an hour.

Jeff Mullane, vice president of the Teamsters Local 947, said

Jacksonville employees are ready to strike if necessary. He said

he was "ecstatic" over the union's vote.

"This is not over money," said Mullane, a production employee.

"Anheuser-Busch has made billions of dollars over the years off

the good work done by Teamsters. The contract they're presenting

us is going to reduce the number of good jobs."

Jacksonville plant manager John Wilchek expressed dismay over

the vote. …

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