One striking worker says it was supposed to be the busiest week of the year, bottling the new batch of Oktoberfest, but the company claims the strike will have no impact on product supply.
For what appears to be only the second time in company history, workers at the Jacob Leinenkugel Brewing Co. in Chippewa Falls are on strike.
First-shift workers cheered Monday morning as vehicles went by and honked in support.
“They’re tired of subpar wages,” Dan Boley, Teamsters Local 662 Union representative, said of the workers. “We’re looking for a fair contract.”
Boley said about 40 workers across the three shifts of brewery production have walked out.
Adam Collins, chief communications and corporate affairs officer of Leinenkugel’s parent company, Molson Coors, said in a statement to UpNorthNews, “We’ve made a competitive offer that exceeds local-market rates for similar unionized roles, and despite the circumstances, we’re hopeful for a resolution that benefits everyone. In the meantime, we don’t expect an impact to our product supply at retail.”
John McGillis, brewery employee of nearly 34 years, sees it differently. McGillis said this was slated to be the busiest week of the year for the plant, but there is no production going on.
“We’re supposed to start putting out Oktoberfest this week. McGillis said. “That won’t happen.”
McGillis said the striking employees include all the workers in bottling, keg-filling, filtration, shipping, and the brewhouse.
“They’re not putting out a single bottle of beer until we go back to work,” McGillis added.
According to a 2016 history book commissioned by the brewery, this would be only the second strike at the company—the only other strike was a four-day work stoppage in May 1985.
Boley said it’s unknown how long the strike will last. “We’re going to go until we feel they get what they deserve.”
“We’re so far apart, this could last quite a while. We are not getting competitive wages,” McGillis said.
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