Anheuser-Busch has been suffering considerable blows in 2023. The company has lost millions in market share and countless customers after the Dylan Mulvaney fiasco, and the Bud Light brand still hasn’t recovered. Even though the company has tried numerous advertising campaigns and spent countless dollars on athletes like Peyton Manning and Emmit Smith in an attempt to make the brand cool again, many drinkers have moved on and will never come back.
Now, after a disastrous 2023 drew to a close, the company is suddenly facing another huge challenge. The Teamster Union, which represents the employees for AB, is prepared to strike if they can’t come to terms on a new contract with the multi-national brewery. It is just another huge obstacle and more bad press for a company that desperately needs a win.
Bak in mid-December, the Teamsters Union announced that its members overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike against the company in the United States, barring a new contract. The union stated that 5,000 members who work at 12 breweries voted to authorize the strike. Members are seeking to get a new contract raising wages, protecting jobs, and securing benefits. The current contract expires in February, so the clock is ticking on the ailing company, and the union is applying the heat.
Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien issued a statement: “Teamsters stand firm in our fight for the best contract at Anheuser-Busch, and this powerful strike vote proves it. Our members’ labor, talent, and sacrifice are what put Anheuser-Busch products on the shelf, and we are committed to getting a contract that rewards and recognizes their hard work. If Anheuser-Busch’s executives can’t get their act together to negotiate an agreement that respects workers, we will see them out on the streets.”
The company and the Teamsters have made some progress on certain issues as of late. The two sides made a tentative agreement towards ending two-tiered health care and restoring retiree benefits, but job security-related issues are still a bone of contention. For the Teamsters, it is very simple. Negotiate or strike. A Teamsters spokesman said: “Anheuser-Busch can’t kick this can down the road much longer. The Teamsters don’t want to be forced onto the picket line at any employer, but we are fully prepared to walk if Anheuser-Busch doesn’t get serious about negotiating a record contract that also protects good union jobs.”
It is a bad look for a company that has had nothing but bad looks in the past year. It is also short-sighted of AB to tangle with a Union like the Teamsters. The Big Three American Automakers got scorched by the United Auto Workers recently, and the Teamsters secured huge gains with UPS earlier this year, and it appears that AB is next to get the collective bargaining treatment.
Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien said: “Teamsters stand firm in our fight for the best contract at Anheuser-Busch, and this powerful strike vote proves it. Our members’ labor, talent, and sacrifice are what put Anheuser-Busch products on the shelf, and we are committed to getting a contract that rewards and recognizes their hard work.”
The Teamsters are notoriously tough to deal with, and AB would be well served to meet the union’s demand and focus on rebuilding consumer trust and repairing their flagship brand of Bud Light. Either way, AB is likely to lose its fight against the Teamsters Union, and inevitably, it will have to bend a knee to employee demands. Perhaps that will allow the company to focus on rebuilding trust with middle-class America and repairing the damage done by the Dylan Mulvaney fiasco.
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