Tuesday, August 01, 2006

No More Rolling Rock in Latrobe

It's so hot here in Michigan I feel like Homer Simpson. The only thing on my mind today is beer - a nice cold one in a tall frosty glass - and I'm usually a devout wine drinker. For some reason though, there's nothing like a cold beer on a hot day. I prefer a light one, but I have been known to grab a bottle of Rolling Rock from my hubby from time to time. He's from western Pennsylvania and so is Rolling Rock, or at least it used to be.
Known for its distinctive green bottle and quality pledge with a mysterious "33" at the end, Rolling Rock has been brewed in Latrobe since 1939. But Belgium's InBev USA, which owned Rolling Rock and Latrobe Brewing, sold Rolling Rock to Anheuser-Busch Cos. Inc. for $82 million in May. Anheuser-Busch plans to brew the beer in New Jersey beginning in August.
This marks the end of an era for Latrobe. The bottling plant where Rolling Rock has been brewed nearly 70 years officially closed yesterday. More than 200 jobs are in limbo, and so is the loyalty of those beer drinkers left with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Latrobe residents considered the beer and the town an equation -- one a pale, 12-ounce distillation of the other. Middle-class, easy-to-love, with enough quirks for character: The definition fit both the place and the brew. [...]

Mr. Erney, in the human resources department at Latrobe Brewing Co., guessed roughly 90 percent of Rolling Rock drinkers in Latrobe will now switch brands. Among plant workers, the percentage might be even higher. At a Friday goodbye picnic, 45 outgoing salaried workers reached their hands into the stuffed coolers. Nobody drank Rolling Rock.
This is so emblematic of how employer-employee relationships have evolved in our country. Their is no sense of loyalty or appreciation for all the years of hard work that people give companies. It's all about making as much money as possible for the shareholders, CEO, top executives and board of directors. The worker gets discarded like an empty beer can tossed carelessly out the window.

I feel for you Latrobe, and I feel for the workers who face an uncertain future. I'll think of you tonight as I sit on my porch and drink a cold one in your honor. Don't worry, it won't be Rolling Rock (or anything else from the Anheuser-Busch family for that matter).

[Click here for an explanation of why that mysterious #33 is on the Rolling Rock bottle.]


pissed off patricia said...

I drink maybe one beer a year, but you are right on a very hot day cold beer works.

Greed is destroying our country. Everyone wants theirs and to hell with everyone else. Money greed is the worst.

Libby said...

My condolences to Latrobe. I haven't had a RR in a while, but I guess ever have one again. And my belated condolences on your Grandmother's passing. I'm so behind on my reading, I just saw that.

abi said...

I hate that term, "human resources." It underscores the point of your post - employees are just like any other of a company's resources to be used and then discarded.

Kvatch said...

Well...Pennsylvanians will always have Iron City. (Eeeewwwwwww!)

Kathy said...

POP, I have to agree with you. Money and greed are destroying us. How ironic that we call ourselves a christian nation, yet we let the sin of greed dictate so many of our actions.

Libby, thanks for the condolences. Latrobe will appreciate knowing you feel for them too.

Abi, I never thought of "human resources" in that way before. Good point. Maybe they should change the term to "human advocate."

Kvatch, my husband agrees with your assessment of Iron City. He calls it Monongahela Swamp Water. (The Mon is the river where they get their sludge, er, water.)