City Brewing in LaCrosse, Wis., and international brewing giant InBev have signed a letter of intent to negotiate the sale of the Latrobe Brewing Co. facility in Pennsylvania.
InBev has already sold the Rolling Rock brand produced at Latrobe.
InBev said that Latrobe union leaders would be included in the discussions. It appears that now much union workers are willing to give back will be a key in the talks. Earlier this month, City Brewing aborted plans to buy a Coors brewery in Memphis after union workers balked at concessions City Brewing was seeking.
City Brewing is forecasting a 30% sales volume increase this year, mainly due to the company’s production of non-alcoholic beverages. The company needs additional production capacity, City Brewing President Randy Smith said.
The purchase of a facility in the eastern United States will help put much of City Brewing’s products closer to their markets, Smith said. The Latrobe facility also will give City Brewing additional capacity to grow, he said.
City Brewing has just over 400 employees who have a starting base wage of around $16.25 per hour. The company brews its own lineup of beers, including City Lager and City Light. But City Brewing gets most of its business through contract production – making beverages for other companies.
The union employees in Latrobe are paid an average wage of around $21 per hour, said George Sharkey, business agent for Local 144B of the International Union of Electrical Workers-Communication Workers of America.