CBC- A free beer allotment for Labatt brewery retirees — which was part of the workers’ pension benefit package for more than five decades — will soon go flat. Labatt has announced the long-standing perk will be phased out by Jan.1, 2019 because it’s too expensive. But workers call the cut petty when compared to the company’s ballooning revenues. Labatt said the allotment for existing retirees would be cut in half in 2018 and cut off completely in 2019. “I just think it’s nickel-and-diming of our retirees that put in a lot of work for many, many years,” said local union president Jim Stirr. “In the cost of doing business, it’s such a small, small thing.”
“The reason for the change relates to the rising overall cost of maintaining a full benefits package, including health care coverage for retirees,” Labatt vice-president Lindsay King wrote in a letter to employees dated Oct. 28. “A recent comprehensive review of all the cost management options has led us to conclude that discontinuing free beer is the best course.”
The union said a modest weekly allotment of free beer has been a perk of working at the Edmonton brewery since plans to open the facility were announced in 1962. As part of the local union contract in Edmonton, each current employee gets a Labatt gift card loaded with the equivalent cost of 52 cases of 12 beers (one case per week). On retirement, that allotment continued for life — and then some. After a Labatt pensioner died, their spouse was then entitled to the same yearly free beer card.
That right there is the least Canadian thing I have ever seen in my life. I thought that country was all about helping each other and being obnoxiously polite. I haven’t seen Gordo or the Toddster around the office lately, but I’m sure they think this is a complete hoser move. You can’t just tell a bunch of workers that one of the greatest perks in the history of the world is being taken away from them. Those workers have put in years or maybe even decades worth of service in order to one day live off the fat of the brewery. You don’t just slide the rug out from under them like some American corporation would. Once Canada stops being Canada, the world is officially going to hell in a hand basket. At the very least just tell every new hire that they are shit out of luck when it comes to free beer for life and buy them a Jelly of the Month club membership or some shit. But not the old vets that built Labatt brick by brick, slinging hops and barley at all hours of the day with the dream of free suds on a roof like Andy Durfresne and the fellas except the whole “in jail and forced labor” part. And don’t give me that “full benefits package including health care coverage” nonsense. The retirement package starts with free beer for life for the retiree and their spouse. OK, the spouse seems a little extreme once the retiree dies, but still this is shameful shit, Labatt.