(Bloomberg) -- Bud Light maker Anheuser-Busch InBev SA struck a tentative five-year contract with workers to avoid a major strike at 12 US breweries ahead of the key summer drinking season. 

The deal increases average wages by 23% over the life of the contract, and includes an immediate $4 per hour raise in the first year. It also has enhanced job security for brewers, packagers, and warehouse workers, according to a statement from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.  

“After a long day and a longer campaign, we’ve reached an agreement that sets a new high standard for the brewing industry,” Teamsters leader Sean O’Brien said in an emailed statement.

There will be a $2,500 ratification bonus for every union member, and an end to two-tier health care that will provide all workers with the same coverage. There will also be improved vacation time and increased pension and retirement benefits, the Teamsters said. 

The agreement was tentative, but unanimously recommended by the Teamsters National Negotiating Committee, according to the statement. 

A spokesperson for Belgium-based Anheuser-Busch said in an emailed statement that the preliminary deal “includes significant commitments to job security.” 

The agreement avoids throwing a major wrench into US beer production. The Teamsters had said their 5,000 members who brew, package and warehouse Anheuser-Busch’s beers — including Budweiser and Michelob Ultra — would stop work at the 12 breweries without a better 5-year contract by Feb. 29. Wages, benefits, job security and even marketing costs have been contentious issues in the negotiations.

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Strikes and union bargaining power have been on the rise. The more-than 450,000 workers involved in stoppages last year were a 280% increase from 2022, according to the Economic Policy Institute, a Washington-based nonprofit that analyzes economic trends. 

The beer industry has been particularly affected: Anheuser-Busch strikes in Europe have affected its Hoegaarden brand in recent months, while US competitor Molson Coors has a current strike at a brewery in Texas.

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