The Virginia Economic Development Partnership (VEDP) board was confronted by out-of-work Virginians protesting the commonwealth’s decision to provide a $500,000 grant, plus tax breaks and other incentives to MillerCoors in exchange for only 27 new jobs at its Shenandoah Valley brewery.
The workers’ jobs are being destroyed by MillerCoors as it shuts its Eden brewery in neighboring North Carolina this month (we covered that in this column last year). Of the 500 jobs lost in Eden, 122 were held by Virginia workers. Most of the MillerCoors Virginia workers who are losing their jobs in Eden are from Ridgeway, Martinsville and Danville, Virginia — areas that have been hard hit by job losses.
“Why should Virginia taxpayers subsidize a $21 billion company that is destroying more jobs than it is willing to create for hardworking Virginians?” said Vernon Gammon, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 391, which has represented the Eden brewery workers for more than 30 years. “Virginia should stand up for working families and insist that all available jobs at the Shenandoah brewery be offered first to the experienced, laid-off Virginia workers from the Eden brewery.”
The Eden brewery was named MillerCoors’ brewery of the year three of the last six years and has been recognized as one of the most efficient, productive and profitable breweries in the MillerCoors system.
“We are proud of the work we performed in Eden, and we are anxious to get to work in Shenandoah,” said Steve Scott, a 15-year MillerCoors employee who lives in Patrick Springs, Va. “We just want the opportunity to continue to produce MillerCoors beer and provide for our families.”
The International Brotherhood of Teamsters represents 1.4 million men and women in the U.S., Canada and Puerto Rico, including some 15,000 members working throughout the brewery industry.