According to the original report posted yesterday, the workers have been without a contract since December 31st, and the union and management were not that far apart on most issues, but retirement benefits became a sticking point. Both sides are claiming that the other caused negotiations to be halted, but it’s clear that the work stoppage is due to a lockout on the part of Moosehead, and is not a strike action.
A follow-up report today gives more details on the dispute, indicating that drug benefits are the main issue:
The beer company now pays 100 per cent of drug costs for its retired workers. […] Joel Levesque, a Moosehead spokesman, said the company is seeking to move to a plan where retirees over 65 would pick up 30 per cent of the costs associated with their post-retirement benefit.
There is currently no beer being produced at the Saint John facility, but previously brewed and packaged inventory is being distributed without interruption for the time being.