Union Rep Blames Craft Beer “Fad” for Molson Vancouver Layoffs

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VANCOUVER, BCMetro Vancouver reports that the recent layoffs of roughly 10% of the workforce at the Molson Coors facility in Vancouver is being partly blamed on the increasing popularity of craft beer, with a union rep calling it a “fad” that he doesn’t see lasting.

Gerry Bergunder, business agent for Brewery Winery & Distillery Workers Union Local 300, tells the paper that he expects the bottle line workers who have been laid off will be back to work soon, explaining that “there has been a decline in sales” of Molson products due to the dramatic increase in craft beer sales in British Columbia, but adding that “we look at these as fads. It happened with Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice – they become popular and then they fade out.”

To provide a counterpoint to this statement, Metro reached out to Ken Beattie, executive director of the B.C. Craft Brewers Guild, who noted that the pendulum swing that Bergunder is hoping for is unlikely to happen. “People are changing their tastes,” he says. “I don’t think this is a trend and I don’t think the bubble’s going to burst anytime soon.”

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Comments

  1. What about all those jobs being created by the craft beer ‘fad’? I think Molson needs to realize that this ‘fad’ is sweeping North America with demand for beers that have TASTE, are responsibly made [no preservatives, fillers, etc] and local. I’m sorry to hear about all those unemployed, but its not the fault of this ‘fad’.

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    • The only problem is that these Kraft brewers are getting government subsidies that have created an unfair advantage for them. I’m all for competition and great tasting beer but the government has made it very difficult for Molson to compete with the micro breweries.

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      • Move to Ontario and you will see that Molson has a monopoly on beer sales, well almost, 80%.

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      • Excuse me? Government subsidies? How do you figure? Because of the lower taxes on breweries less than 15,000HL? Once they punch through that it’s the same taxes you know. And FYI when I lived on the east coast Molson cut a deal with New Brunswick to get cheaper taxes for their imports from Ontario for 2yrs while they build a brewery. You know, the more I think of what you said the more your lies make me mad. You’re not correct in your statement one bit. There are no subsidies. What a load of garbage.

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        • You have no clue what you’re talking about.

          Molson or Labatts buy more than 90% of the craft beers in BC, they instantly become go from making money to bleeding money, once the subsidies get stripped. And that’s before the hipsters stop drinking it, suggesting that the beer has changed, when all that has is the ownership…

          And yes, every province tried to entice businesses to come there. Brewing, automotive, etc. If you’re going to invest tens of millions of dollars into a facility that will create good jobs (with pensions and benefits) for dozens of people long term, its a no-brainer to do that.

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          • what subsidies? Specifically please.

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  2. Molson Union hating on craft beer eh….

    What about Six Pints Specialty Beer Company and their Beer Academy craft beer downtown Toronto. Six Pints was created through the national partnership of Granville Island Brewing and Creemore Springs Brewery. Granville is owned by Creemore, which is a Molson Coors subsidiary.

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    • You understand that the Union guy has nothing to do with Molson, right?

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  3. Given the executives at Molson Coors seem to have trouble figuring out what this craft beer thingy is all about, I guess the best that Gerry Bergunder can do is engage in wishful thinking. Even if he did understand the new landscape, it’s not like the upper echelon are going to listen to the union. On the positive side, there is no lack of brewery jobs.

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    • Yes it is positive that craft beer jobs are being created, Problem is these are low paying, mostly temporary jobs with few (if any) benefits. A Molson employee probably makes 2 to 3 times that of a craft beer laborer with great benefits and pension.

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      • Yup, union workers are making more than the employees at smaller businesses. But, the fat salaries and benefit packages of these over priced, under worked employees is a financial drain to these large breweries. Molson would have cut these people anyways. Look at Labatt. They had a brewery in New West and then they shut it down and moved the brewery east yet they still have sales here in BC. Did they blame that on local craft breweries? No cause there were none at the time. That was simple math. Paying people too much = unsustainable.

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  4. I feel bad for the people that got laid off but they will get unemployment insurance so at least they are going to get something.

    Craft beer is not a fad though. People want taste now. People are waking up from their life of board taste buds. Wake up and smell the losses Molson!

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  5. Well Gerry, the layoffs are because of yellow, fizzy and lame beer your company has been making for years. We have moved on to beers with malt and hops, you have not. The blame should go to Molsons, not a “FAD “. The fad is here to stay. I got fed up many years ago and started to make my own “fad” beer and haven’t tasted a Molson product in 20 years.

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    • Art

      Exactly Chris. Finally, quality is taking hold in our market. Give anyone a monopoly and they’ll put out whatever swill just to own a market.

      Thankfully, there is increasing variety and a greater public awareness of beer styles these days as a result.

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  6. Mr. Bergunder fails to realize that Mike’s Hard Lemonade and Smirnoff Ice aren’t even beer!

    Once you’ve had a great tasting, quality beer, no one would EVER go back to drinking their swill.

    Typical union mentality. Not owning up to anything, or taking responsibility for the fact that you’re creating a lesser product.

    Always someone else’s fault.

    If you work for Molson and you’re reading this, quit while you’re ahead and take a position within a craft brewery.

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    • What does this have to do with unions? I doubt very much it’s the unionized employees making marketing and product decisions, don’t you? Perhaps you don’t know how unions work.

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      • It has to do with the union because the union brought this up. They’re responding to a layoff and they’re the ones laying blame. If they’re going to comment on something, then they should take responsibility for what they’re saying.

        If you know a lot about unions, then please, tell us more.

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        • Agree with MJ on this one Tobin.

          Comes down to a better product getting the recognition it deserves.

          To your point Tobin, they probably should have interviewed the marketing & production brass at Molson.

          Really, what does a union agent know anyhow?

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  7. Fad? Don’t count on it. Molson makes an inferior product, plain-and-simple. Begone, Beer Store.

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    • Let’s face facts, Molson makes a light and flavourless product by design. Why? So it will sell to the masses and make lots of $$$. It’s brewers are not in the business of making beer for themselves and their buddies, especially beers that won’t sell in the huge quantities it brews.

      When it comes to quality, Molson has it in spades. Where it is lacking is in the micro and nano breweries that have less trained (in some cases untrained) brewers with a complete lack of quality control measures. There’s no disputing quality when it comes to craft versus the big guys, no matter your preference in beer styles.

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  8. Ray

    Should blame the company not a “fad”. Obviously Molson didn’t think of craft beer as a fad with their purchase of several craft beer companies. I don’t think Molson reacted enough. They need to realise that not everyone wants to drink a light boring lager every time they have a beer. Every time I’m at a chain restaurant all I ever see is Coors lite and Canadian…why not make something like hops and bolts available to the masses. It may not be the best beer I have had but its less boring than the usual selection.

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  9. The way of the dinosaur. I own a small craft brewery in Ontario and Im tired of these dinosaurs greasing the pockets of bar owners, which is illegal! I feel sorry for those laid off, but we need to remember craft beer does hire people as well.

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  10. Is there a way to know if Mr Bergunder will read these comments, because that was one of the silliest things I’ve heard in a while. I guess in his position he has to give union employees hope but by calling the simple fact that people like beer that tastes good rather than mass-produced crap a fad is just plain wrong.

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  11. This is a giant pile of crap. Maybe Molson should start brewing good beer. With flavour, lots of taste testing, tasting parties, and food pairings!

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