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Teamsters union strikes Molson Coors as it prepares to walk out at Anheuser-Busch next week

<i>Courtesy International Brotherhood of Teamsters</i><br/>Picket lines seen Monday at the Molson Coors brewery in Fort Worth
Courtesy International Brotherhood of Teamsters
Picket lines seen Monday at the Molson Coors brewery in Fort Worth

By Chris Isidore, CNN

New York (CNN) — More than 400 Teamsters are on strike at the Molson Coors brewery in Fort Worth, Texas, impacting production for North America’s second largest brewer.

The work stoppage, which began Saturday, comes ahead of a March 1 strike deadline that the Teamsters have set for 5,000 members at Anheuser-Busch, the nation’s largest brewer. In its most recent statement on the state of those talks the union said a strike at Anheuser-Busch “appears unavoidable.”

The Molson Coors strike comes as the company has been reporting strong sales and profits. Last week it reported underlying earnings of $1.5 billion before taxes for 2023, up 39% from a year earlier. Full-year revenue rose 9% to $11.7 billion.

“Last year we achieved the highest reported top and bottom-line figures in the history of our company,” said CEO Gavin Hattersley when reporting results. “We plan to build on this momentum in 2024.”

The union claims the company’s offer was “insulting” considering how well it is doing financially, offering less than a $1 per hour wage increase for the majority of Teamsters members.

“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,” said Teamsters President Sean O’Brien. “Millions go to the CEO, billions go to Wall Street and a middle finger goes to the workers. We’re not taking the disrespect, we’re not accepting the crumbs and we’re not making concessions.

Molson Coors said about 30% of its North American work force is unionized, but much of that is the workers at three Canadian breweries. In addition to those three facilities, it operates six US breweries, including Fort Worth.

The company said it has excess capacity at its other five US breweries, and that it built up inventory of its product ahead of the possible strike.

“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,” said the company’s statement. It defended its offer to the union, which it said “exceeds local market rates.”

“We remain committed to reaching an agreement that is fair to everyone,” it said.

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