Financializing tater nation
Plus: “Anheuser-Busch is a Great American Brand that perhaps deserves a Second Chance?”
Editor’s note: Welcome to The Fingers Weekender, a Sunday digest exclusively for paying Friends of Fingers featuring the independent journalism about drinking in America you love, optimized for hungover scrolling. In today’s edition:
How private equity is getting in on the whiskey business;
Why Trump is touting Anheuser-Busch;
Where Publix is dodging massive lawsuits while donating tons of campaign cash;
And much more. If someone forwarded this to you, buy a subscription to get next Sunday’s edition straight in your inbox.—Dave.
Former employees are suing Boston Beer Co. over its non-compete policy. A pair of former sales reps have filed separate lawsuits in US District Court alleging the company’s, ah, overzealous enforcement of non-compete agreements gives employees nowhere to go but outta the beer business when fleeing what both suits describe as its “toxic work environment.” BBC provided Brewbound’s Jess Infante a statement about how non-competes help protect investment in its brands and workforce, a facile argument towards which the Federal Trade Commission has signaled deep skepticism lately. Tough look for the “rising tides lifts all boats” disciples at The House That Sam Built.
With a strike on Anheuser-Busch InBev looming, the Teamsters are calling the tune. The current contract, covering 5,000 workers at all of the macrobrewer’s US facilities, is a dead letter after 11:59pm on February 29th. With less than three weeks of negotiating crunch time left, and a virtually unanimous strike authorization vote already locked in, the union dropped the hammer last week, doubling strike benefits for affected workers and running practice pickets at four ABI breweries to demonstrate rank-and-file readiness for a strike. By contrast, the firm has put out a few lip-service statements about being willing to negotiate. Bargaining takes place in private, so there’s plenty more to this dynamic beyond our view. But in public, the Teamsters are pantsing ABI down the home stretch.
Molson Coors claims it can handle the Teamsters. As the King of Beers slouches towards a strike, its longtime rival last week tried to ensure business partners and markets that no labor trouble was brewing (ahem) at its Fort Worth facility. There, the Teamsters say months-long negotiations with Molson Coors over a new agreement for 420 union workers have gotten so “insulting” and “regressive” that last week they boosted strike benefits to $1,000/pp/wk and began prepping for an “imminent” walkout. The macrobrewer’s execs are projecting calm to the trade press, telling Beer Business Daily they’re “well prepared to continue operations in any scenario” thanks to five other breweries with extra capacity. Which, maybe so. But that sure seems like an invitation to the Teamsters to organize MC’s non-union plants and line up its next round of brewery contracts to expire all at once, no?