Union employees of the Latrobe Brewery voted 113-9 yesterday to approve a new -two-year contract with City Brewery of La Crosse, Wisconsin. It was undoubtedly not exactly a level playing field, but the Latrobe brewery workers agreed to pay cuts and reduced vacation time in an effort to save their jobs.
A few months ago when City Brewery was negotiating to purchase the Coors brewing facility in Memphis, Tennessee, Teamsters rejected City’s contract offer expecting them to make a counter-offer. Instead City Brewery walked away from the deal. That fact had to be on the mind of brewery workers when it came time to vote yesterday.
Union officials were quoted as saying that the concessions were relatively minor and not beyond expectations. Of course, City Brewery still has to close the deal with InBev.
Union official George Sharkey indicated that City Brewery is planning a 24-ounce canning line for the Latrobe brewery. Rumors also are floating around about the possibility of Latrobe starting up a new proprietary brand. The plant will close shortly, on July 31, with only a “skeleton crew” remaining to keep the refrigeration units in working order. No word yet on when the brewery might re-open full-time again.