Teamsters at MillerCoors breweries in Eden, North Carolina, and Fort Worth, Texas, have ratified new three-year contracts. The agreements cover more than 900 employees at the two breweries and provide lifetime retiree healthcare benefits. Members of Local 391 and 997 at each location voted earlier this month to ratify the contracts by 88 percent.
“Our members overwhelmingly ratified these contracts at MillerCoors because they provide stability for their families while they are working and in retirement,” said David Laughton, director of the Teamsters Brewery and Soft Drink Workers Conference. “For the next three years, our members at MillerCoors know that their wages and pension benefits are secured and that now their families will be protected after they retire.”
MillerCoors had proposed cutting the union’s seniority system as well as lowering the wage rates in the distribution facilities, but the Teamsters negotiating team says it fought back. Ultimately the agreements brought to members for a vote were for contracts that kept previously hard-won victories in place, in addition to increases in wages and benefits.
“I am glad to have the pay raises and the good benefits that this new contract provides,” said Travis Mave, a 10-year member of Local 391 who works in the packaging department. “Maintaining our seniority system has been important and we secured that in the new contract, too.”
There are 430 Teamster members working at the Eden MillerCoors plant, 214 of which are in the same department as Mave.
“We are proud that any member with 30 years of time at MillerCoors who retires by Jan. 1, 2016, will pay nothing for their retiree healthcare, and neither will their spouse,” Laughton said. “The company was anxious to make cuts so we stood our ground. We made sure that there were improvements for both active members at MillerCoors and the retirees who had paved the way before with their long years of service.”
The Teamsters Brewery and Soft Drink Workers Conference represents 1,200 MillerCoors workers nationwide. The third and final contract, for the MillerCoors plant in Irwindale, California, is currently being negotiated.