Anheuser-Busch plant in Lysander lays off 33 workers

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This is happening all over Canada. Could be a sign of things to come.

Lysander, NY - Anheuser-Busch InBev NV/SA laid off 33 workers at its brewery in Lysander this week because of a drop in beer sales and greater automation, according to a union official.

Twenty-three union members in the bottling and brewing departments were put on involuntary, temporary layoff, and 10 salaried employees in the plant’s laboratory were permanently laid off, said Steve Richmond, president of Teamsters Local 1149.


plant employed about 800 people before the layoffs.

The layoffs were in addition to 10 to 15 temporary, voluntary layoffs at the plant since September, Richmond said.

Richmond said it is not unusual for the plant to have layoffs this time of year because of a seasonal slowdown in beer sales.

Usually the layoffs are done on a voluntary basis. Workers who agree to be temporarily laid off are able to claim state unemployment benefits and receive supplementary pay from the company, so they receive about 80 percent of what they would get if they were working.

But not enough workers volunteered for the layoffs this week, so the company instituted involuntary layoffs, the first among union workers at the plant in recent years, Richmond said.

He said beer sales have slipped because of the recession and a consumer trend toward imported beers that are priced about the same as domestic beers.

In a written statement, Stephen McCormick, the brewery’s general manager, said it was reducing “a small number of salaried staff at our facility due to changes in our operational needs” and that reductions in its hourly staff were necessary because of seasonal fluctuations in its business.

Earlier this year, the company offered buyouts to workers at the plant, hoping that 50 employees would accept them. About 25 did, a factor that also contributed to the layoffs this week, Richmond said.

In addition, a recent $40 million upgrade to the plant improved automation, allowing the brewery to operate with fewer workers, he said.

Production workers are paid about $28 an hour at the 1.5-million-square-foot plant, off Route 31 near Baldwinsville.

Belgian brewer InBev completed its $52 billion acquisition of Anheuser-Busch in November 2008, creating the world’s largest brewer. The company operates 12 breweries in the United States.