A-B Agrees to End Tiered Medical Care, Restore Benefits in Retirement

Anheuser-Busch has reached a tentative agreement with the Teamsters Union to restore retirement benefits for active and retired members and permanently end an tiered structure to health care for active employees, the union said.

The significant gains are key issues for the Teamsters during negotiations for a new contract with the beer giant. The tentative agreement on health care and retirement follows the Teamsters National Negotiating Committee halting bargaining last week until Anheuser-Busch until the medical care issue was resolved.

The new language restores retiree health benefits lost under the two prior contracts and protects those benefits going forward by placing the benefits solely in the control of the Teamsters. The unfair tiered structure for active employee health care created under the expiring contract will come to an end. Anheuser-Busch will put $50.7 million over four years into a fund to secure benefits for Teamsters retiring under the new agreement and for contracts thereafter.

"As we proved at UPS, the Teamsters Union is not going to settle for two-tier systems that unfairly pit our members against one another or deprive workers of the wages and benefits they've earned," said Teamsters General President Sean M. O'Brien. "This tentative agreement is a resounding victory for our rank-and-file members fighting tooth-and-nail for a record contract at Anheuser-Busch. But there is more ground to cover to make sure workers are protected and respected at this company. The fight is not over."

The two-tier health care plan for active members cost new hires at Anheuser-Busch thousands of dollars more than longer tenured workers. Under the tentative agreement, all Anheuser-Busch Teamsters will enroll in the same Teamster-controlled high-quality health care plans.

"Under the current setup, so many of my co-workers are forced to pay more for inferior health care," said Dorian Gillespie, a machine operator with Teamsters Local 947 in Jacksonville, Florida, who is participating in negotiations. "I love my job. But with the way things are going in the economy, everything is more expensive. We need affordable, quality health care. And now we're going to get it."

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