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Beer Co. Faces Teamsters Strike

June 3, 1998

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Teamsters officials say they are making plans to strike Anheuser-Busch before the peak summer brewing period ends.

David Laughton, head of the union’s division representing brewery workers, said through a spokeswoman Tuesday that no strike deadline had been set. But Laughton called a meeting for Thursday of all the local leaders representing the 8,000 Teamsters at Anheuser-Busch.

The meeting was called in response to pressure from local leaders who were frustrated when a strike wasn’t called after a similar gathering before the Memorial Day weekend, according to several union officials.

Company negotiators have not budged from a contract proposal that was voted down by union members, and many union officials believe the best time to strike would be before the company begins brewing beer to be sold during the steamy month of August.

``You never know until you get down to the wire,″ said Matt Witt, the union’s communications director. ``But we are making preparations.″

Union officials said a strike would focus on trying to embarrass the company publicly by conducting protests at high-profile sporting events sponsored by Budweiser and other Anheuser-Busch labels.

Company spokesman Steve LeResche said that company officials have met with union negotiators to explain their offer since the May 1 vote. ``Our final offer is our final offer,″ he said. ``We think it’s an outstanding offer.″

LeResche said that the company would turn to management, retirees and family members of current salaried workers to keep operations running in the event of a strike.

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