Brewing company

Workers begin strike at City Brewing Company in Latrobe

Unionized workers at Latrobe’s City Brewing took to the picket line on Tuesday, halting work at the plant in what they called an unfair labor practices strike.

Brewery employees have been without a contract since March 3. They organized an information picket the next day, without work stoppage. The evening shift employees would picket during the day and the day shift employees would take over after their shift.

“We hope to return to the bargaining table. That’s the whole point of everything…to get back to the bargaining table and get a fair deal,” said Casey Villa, vice president of UIE-CWA Local 22, on Tuesday.

Union president Bill Palmer said the company had failed to respond to union demands and that factory policies had been changed “unilaterally in retaliation for union activity at the factory”.

“City Brewery has spent more than six months working hard to reach an agreement with the IUE-CWA union for our Latrobe brewery, and we remain committed to putting in place a solid contract for the benefit of our employees,” said Tuesday. a company spokesperson. “Our most recent offer included significant salary increases for all covered employees – nearly 23% for new hires – upfront payments on signing, improved vacation accruals and competitive benefits.

“We have met with our employees to ensure they have accurate information, and we will continue to negotiate in good faith to resolve any outstanding issues and reach an agreement.”

At the March 4 picket, Palmer said management had tried to remove seniority rights that allowed employees to choose their shifts, alleging that management had “tried to circumvent seniority all the way.” long negotiations”.

The union represents approximately 50 members at the Latrobe plant. UIE-CWA Local 144 represents approximately 145 employees.

The unions have three pending unfair labor complaints filed with the National Labor Relations Board against City Brewery. The allegations include changing contracts, withholding information, changing terms and conditions of employment and taking enforcement action.

Palmer said some employees remain at the plant, particularly those who operate the engine room, including boilers, compressors and ammonia systems.

“If something goes wrong in there, it’s a danger to the building and to everyone in it and to the immediate surroundings,” he said. “So we made sure to keep those operators in the plant, but they are union employees.”

A spokesperson for City Brewery said this month the company would continue to honor seniority and job offers under a new “last, best and final contract offer” offered by the ‘business.

City Brewery recently signed a five-year lease for a warehouse and distribution site at the RIDC Westmoreland industrial complex in East Huntingdon. He said the move was part of an effort to “scale up our production operations to support additional customers.”

Ten union members work at the site, where the company plans to create 50 to 60 jobs.

Latrobe Brewing, which was founded in 1893 as part of Pittsburgh Brewing Co., began producing its flagship Rolling Rock beer in 1939 after Prohibition ended.

City Brewing bought the property from Anheuser-Busch Co., which paid $82 million for the Rolling Rock brand in 2006 and moved production to New Jersey.

City Brewing had closed in late 2008, when Boston Beer Co. moved production of Sam Adams beer from Latrobe to a plant in the Allentown area. Brewing at the facility resumed in 2009 with Iron City Beer and several other contract brewing arrangements. These include, or have included, Stoney’s and Stoney’s Light, Guinness Blonde American Lager and Red Stripe.

Pittsburgh Brewing Co. announced in February 2021 plans to produce its own brands — Iron City, IC Light, IC Light Mango, Old German Premium Lager, American and American Light and Block House Brewing Summer Break — in a former glass factory in Creighton, Eastern Deer. Work continues to begin production at this facility.

Megan Guza is editor of Tribune-Review. You can contact Megan at 412-380-8519, or via Twitter .