Anheuser-Busch has been brewing beer in St. Louis since the 1860s. It has endured a civil war, Prohibition, a couple of world wars, labor discord, diversification, and plenty of national and international competition for market share.
It will also survive its merger with InBev. But, we’ve known for a while that Anheuser-Busch InBev will not look exactly like its predecessor. The redundancies of merged companies and the debt created by the stock purchase made changes inevitable. Over the past couple of months, we’ve seen retirements, early retirements, and buy-outs. Today, we are seeing lay-offs and terminated contracts.
This is a very painful day for the people at Anheuser-Busch who are losing their jobs, and for the people who depend on them. Given the state of the economy, the market for the sorts of white collar professionals who are leaving, and the impending holidays, the timing probably could not be worse.
City government is going to do everything we can to help. SLATE will offer AB employees help finding a new job, going back to school, and getting additional training. And it will help those who are interested get some advice on how to start their own businesses.
But, the efforts of SLATE and of City government, while important, are not going to be enough.
I am hopeful that President-elect Barack Obama and the Congress will move quickly on the new economic stimulus bill. Mr. Obama said this weekend that he plans to develop more than two million new jobs by "making the single largest new investment in our national infrastructure since the creation of the federal highway system in the 1950s." That should be an investment that creates good jobs in fields that will make the country more competitive and its economy more sustainable. There is no action by government more important to our country’s security — or more urgent to the hundreds of AB managers and professionals who have learned today that they are losing their jobs and contracts.