Teamsters union authorizes potential strike at Anheuser-Busch

The Teamsters union's strike authorization vote could increase pressure on Anheuser-Busch to negotiate with the union

The Teamsters union announced Saturday that its members overwhelmingly voted to authorize a strike against Anheuser-Busch’s breweries in the U.S. if the union and beermaker are unable to reach an agreement on a new labor contract early next year.

The union said that of the 5,000 Teamsters members who work at 12 Anheuser-Busch breweries in the U.S., 99% voted to authorize a strike if the two sides don’t secure a new labor contract raising wages, protecting jobs and securing benefits. The union’s current contract expires on Feb. 29, 2024.

"Teamsters stand firm in our fight for the best contract at Anheuser-Busch, and this powerful strike vote proves it," said Teamsters General President Sean O’Brien. "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," O’Brien added.

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Anheuser-Busch Beer

The current labor contract between Anheuser-Busch and the Teamsters union expires at the end of February 2024. (Daniel Acker/Bloomberg via Getty Images / Getty Images)

According to the Teamsters, the union and Anheuser-Busch reached tentative agreements on ending tiered health care and restoring retiree health benefits last month – but the two sides haven’t negotiated on job security issues since mid-November.

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BUD ANHEUSER-BUSCH INBEV 60.27 +0.10 +0.17%

The union’s announcement also took issue with Anheuser-Busch announcing "$1 billion in stock buybacks to wealthy investors as it simultaneously ignores the need to protect good jobs."

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Budweiser bottling facility St. Louis, Missouri

The Teamsters union said 99% of its members at Anheuser-Busch voted to authorize a potential strike in early 2024. (Getty Images / Getty Images)

"Anheuser-Busch can’t kick this can down the road much longer," said Jeff Padellaro, director of the Teamsters Brewery, Bakery, and Soft Drink Conference. "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."

A spokesperson for Anheuser-Busch told FOX Business, "Anheuser-Busch is aware of the Teamsters' strike authorization vote, which is common during labor negotiations. We are committed to negotiating in good faith with the union to reach an agreement that recognizes and rewards the talent, commitment, and drive of our employees."

Anheuser-Busch InBev, the global beer conglomerate that owns Budweiser and Bud Light, has seen sales slump over the past year following its controversial partnership with transgender activist Dylan Mulvaney. The company reported a 17.1% decline in North American sales volume during the third quarter after a 14.5% drop in the prior quarter when Bud Light lost its long-standing title as the best-selling beer in the U.S. to Modelo Especial, owned by Constellation Brands.

The specter of a strike by the Teamsters against Anheuser-Busch comes after the union reached a new five-year labor agreement with logistics giant United Parcel Service (UPS) this summer to avert a strike.

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The Teamsters-UPS deal included pay raises of $2.75 per hour in 2023 and $7.50 over the length of the contract, with full-timers’ average top rate rising to $49 per hour. It also gave part-timers an immediate raise to at least $21 per hour and gave all UPS Teamsters Martin Luther King Day as a full holiday for the first time.

FOX Business's Breck Dumas contributed to this report.