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Teamsters Win Collective Bargaining Victory at SAB-Miller

Posted to the IUF website 01-Aug-2006

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On 30 July members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters (IBT) working at the South African Brewery-Miller (SAB-Miller) brewery in Irwindale, California, voted to accept a new three-year contract agreement that provides higher wages, a reduction in the amount members pay for health care, plus a higher contribution by the company into employees' pensions.

The contract at the Irwindale brewery is the last of three contracts that were being negotiated for Teamsters members employed by SAB-Miller in the United States. On 15 July members of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters working at SAB-Miller plants in Eden, North Carolina and Ft. Worth, Texas voted to accept a new three-year term contract offer that preserves health care coverage and increases wages.

"This is a major victory for Teamsters working for SAB-Miller," said Jim Hoffa, Teamsters General President. "The company tried to slash health care benefits and the Teamsters stood up to those threats and refused to back down."

Until the final day of contract negotiations, the company held onto its demand that their Teamster employees would pay $200 a month to be covered by the company's health insurance plan. By converting to the union health plan, the company was able to save $13.5 million in insurance costs over the term of the contract. Workers will pay nothing toward the monthly premium until the final nine weeks of the three-year agreement.

Said Jack Cipriani, Teamsters Brewery and Soft Drink Workers Conference Director. "We won two good contracts earlier this month, and now we have the third and final one. All of our members at SAB-Miller will have secure jobs and access to affordable healthcare for the next three years."

Cipriani credited the union's global strategy in securing the strong contracts. SAB-Miller is a transnational company based in London. Miller Beer, a leading beer brewer in the United States, was purchased by SAB in 2002.

The Teamsters reached out to the IUF and its affiliates for support in this important battle. The IUF afifliated TGWU distributed fliers at the SAB-Miller global headquarters in London and the IUF's largest affiliate in South Africa FAWU's general secretary Katishi Masemola attended a meeting of the Teamsters Brewery and Soft Drink Workers Conference and the Teamsters Union Convention to discuss campaign strategy. IUF General Secretary Ron Oswald twice contacted SAB-Miller CEO Graham Mackay in support of the Teamsters position on health care coverage, and received an assurance from Mackay that SABMiller would "work with the IBT to reach a conclusion acceptable to all."

"The impact of this global strategy cannot be underestimated," Cipriani said. "The relationships we've built with these unions will remain important in future dealings with SAB-Miller."

Teamsters represent 1,400 workers at three SAB-Miller plants in North Carolina, Texas and California. The Teamsters Brewery and Soft Drink Workers Conference represents over 50,000 employees of the soft drink, beer, liquor and bottled water industries in the United States and Canada. The Teamsters re-affiliated to the IUF in 2006.