Labatt No Longer Giving Retirees Lifelong Free Beer

For those who are of age and fancy themselves the occasional, or not-so-occasional, pint of beer, once in a while it’s natural to wonder what it might be like if it were free.

Workers for Canadian brewery Labatt’s, owned by Anheuser-Busch InBev, never needed to worry about price of beer even into retirement as Labatt had the glorious, and unprecedented, company policy for even retirees to continue receiving complimentary Labatt’s beer.

Well, now Labatt is taking that beautiful gift away. The brewer sent a memo to employees stating that it’d “gradually turn off the retirees beer tap over the next two years,” via the New York Times.

Such as the case for most delectable perks being rescinded, Labatt points to the bottom line. The memo said that the ‘rising costs’ of retirees’ benefits led to the decision. This isn’t just the free beer, of course, but health care, too.

“That’s a bit rich,” said Larry Innanen, a Labatt retiree who was involved in a lawsuit against Labatt after they cut health benefits. “It’s a loss to a class of former employees. It means something, it’s material to them.”

Others have lamented how the cuts are cementing the new wave of work at Labatt, that it’s just that. It’s just work.

“It’s certainly not the way it was in the past, when there was fanatical devotion to the brand and the company,” said David Bridger, President of Service Employees International Union, who represents Labatt’s employees. “Today it’s just a job.”

The cut is only for those who’ve retired, though. Current Labatt employees will still continue to get a free case of beer every other week then bonus ones for the holidays.

Labatt’s calls the change a “reluctant” one, though they defend themselves by pointing at other companies, not just breweries.

“None of the companies we surveyed offered free product to retirees,” said Charlie Angelakos, a spokesman for Labatt.

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