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Court Backs Anheuser-Busch in Union Dispute

(CN) - A former union official can't force Anheuser-Busch to arbitrate a retirement dispute, the 6th Circuit ruled, because pension claims are not covered by the union's collective bargaining agreement.

The Cincinnati-based appeals court upheld a federal judge's refusal to compel arbitration in the pension dispute between Jerry T. Vincent and his former employer, Anheuser-Busch. After working several years for the brewery, Vincent became an elected official with Teamsters Local Union No. 783.

He later returned to Anheuser-Busch for one day, got paid for five weeks of vacation and then quit the next day.

He claimed that, because he'd returned to Anheuser-Busch for a day, he was entitled to full retirement benefits based on his prior seniority.

The collective bargaining agreement states that "when a member of the union leaves the employer to take full-time employment with the local union, he shall after completion of such employment with the local union return to his former position and his seniority shall continue uninterrupted."

The deal also states that all unresolved disputes stemming from the bargaining agreement are subject to arbitration.

But a federal judge in Louisville denied the union's bid to compel arbitration of Vincent's pension dispute, instead granting summary judgment to Anheuser-Busch.

The federal appeals court affirmed, saying the union's claim "is not arbitrable."

"Vincent's grievance is expressly excluded from the arbitration clause by the pension plan document itself," Judge David McKeague wrote for the three-judge panel.

McKeague said the collective bargaining agreement refers to the pension plan, which "explicitly provides an alternate procedural framework for resolving pension disputes."

Anheuser-Busch produces Budweiser, Bud Light, Michelob and several other brands of beer.

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