'No contract, no beer': Molson Coors brewery employees picket over contract negotiations

NOW: ’No contract, no beer’: Molson Coors brewery employees picket over contract negotiations

MILWAUKEE (CBS 58) -- A group of Molson Coors employees are one step closer to going on strike.

A union spokesperson told CBS 58 they're in limbo with the beverage company over the next three-year contract for brewery employees.

"We are the largest workforce inside the brewery," UAW Local 9 bargaining chairperson Joe Kanzleiter said.

"No contract, no beer," is the warning dozens of workers gave as they picketed through rain and shine on Tuesday afternoon. 

"People are just burnt out and they're tired, and they want to show their support and have their voice be heard that they deserve more than what's on the table for them," Kanzleiter said.

The union representative said they've been negotiating this contract with their employer since July. They reached a tentative agreement, but it was voted down by 77 percent of bargaining members in September.

"It was not as good as what we were hoping for," Kanzleiter said about the first tentative agreement.

Kanzleiter told CBS 58 the beverage company proposed some pay cuts and a two-tier wage scale. He said that would mean some employees would make less than others for doing the same job.

"Allowing a two-tier wage scale to come in is divisive and kind of the antithesis of what our union is about," Kanzleiter said.

He said the company tried the two-tier method from 2013 to 2016 and it didn't work. 

The union is demanding a higher wage increase and improved working conditions, including less excessive overtime, more paid time off and better benefits.

"We worked right through the pandemic. You know, we had a mass shooting here over two years ago. We feel that we deserve more," Kanzleiter said.

Those picketing on Tuesday said a strike isn't ideal.

"We want to keep working, and we want to keep making beer in Milwaukee," Kanzleiter said. 

It's also not off the table.

"They have options at their disposal and so do we," Kanzleiter said.

The union representative said the next opportunity for negotiations is Friday.

In a statement Tuesday evening, Molson Coors said, "We have been in conversation with the Union and hope to have a quick resolution that benefits all parties."

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