Union Strikes At Anheuser-Busch

Hundreds of Anheuser-Busch Inc. workers are refusing to cross the picket line and return to their jobs after a few dozen Teamsters went on strike because of stalled contract negotiations.

Members of Teamsters Local 367 went on strike Thursday, the first strike at an Anheuser-Busch plant since 1976. The local, made up of boiler operators and other maintenance workers, represents just 65 workers.

While no other unions are striking, the other 1,800 Teamsters at the plant honored the picket lines Thursday and left the plant.

Also, workers from other unions (electricians, plumbers, carpenters, and others) walked off the job.

"Their fight is our fight," said Ray Soaib, assistant business manager for Local 1187, which, with 850 members, is the biggest Teamsters local at the plant. "I don't expect anybody to cross at this point."

Teamsters national spokesman Rodger Newell said the walkout would not carry over to Anheuser-Busch's 11 other domestic plants, including one in Baldwinsville, N.Y. The brewery employs about 8,000 Teamsters nationwide.

However, striking workers here appealed to union members around the country to spread the strike to other breweries.

"We're hoping to have a domino affect," said striker Clay Fisk of House Springs.

The union and brewery have been at odds since contract talks began more than a year ago, mostly over concerns over job security issues. Last month, the brewery broke off any further talks and implemented its final contract offer.

Teamsters at Anheuser-Busch brew the beer, bottle it, maintain the plant, and drive the trucks that carry the product. The St. Louis-based company is the world's largest beer-maker. Its products include the No. 1 beer, Budweiser, and the top-selling light beer, Bud Light.

Written by Jim Salter