Molson Coors Canada and striking union workers reach benefits contract agreement

Molson Canadian beer sales fell over 12% in 2016, and the company has turned its focus to the Coors Light and Molson Canadian brands. ©iStock/Brian McEntire

Molson Coors Canada and union workers at the Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada, facility reached a collective agreement on employee benefits after nearly seven weeks of protests. 

The protesting and shutdown of the Canadian brewing facility began after Molson Coors issued a new employee contract that allegedly made “deep cuts” to retirement security and health and welfare benefits, the Canadian Union of Brewery and General Workers Local 325 (CUBGW) president, Robert Folk, said.

"The beer industry has changed a lot over the past five years, and we were tasked to respond in a way that allowed us to brew the highest quality beer at the most competitive price for our customers," Amy Michtich, chief supply chain officer for Molson Coors Canada, said.

CUBGW satisfied with new ‘comprehensive’ benefits

Negotiations between the two parties resumed on February 17 and CUBGW approved the four-year contract last Friday, which will cover roughly 320 of its unionized employees.

"While this was a challenging round of negotiations, this new contract positions Molson to be more efficient and flexible while also remaining fair to our employees and their needs," Michtich said.

"This new four-year agreement contract continues to provide our hourly employees with a comprehensive compensation and benefits package that we are very proud of and one our members value," Folk said.

Molson Coors investing in Canadian beer brands

Molson Coors said it is determined to remain competitive in the Canadian beer market where it holds a 26.9% market share, a drop from 40.2% in 2013, according to Statista.

During its Q4 earnings call, Molson Coors president and CEO Mark Hunter said the company is committed to strengthening its Canadian beer portfolio, which saw a 12.2% decline in pre-tax income for 2016.  

“In Canada, our First Choice agenda will be focused on bringing back momentum to the top line through a relentless focus on our two largest brands, Coors Light and Molson Canadian in the premium segment,” Hunter said.

The company will be launching a Molson Canadian campaign highlighting Canada’s 150th anniversary to help lift its two core beer brands. 

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