Union approves deal by 14 votes



The takeover group would spend 1 million initially to jump-start the Iron City and IC Light brands.
PITTSBURGH (AP) -- Union workers approved a contract with Pittsburgh Brewing Co. on Sunday, paving the way for the brewery to emerge from bankruptcy.
The union voted 66-52 to accept the three-year deal if prospective owner Pittsburgh Brewing Acquisition takes over. Details were not immediately provided.
"It was clear that their focus is to keep the brewery viable," Tim Hickman, spokesman for Pittsburgh Brewing Acquisition, said in a statement. "I believe we are on the same page -- we want the bankruptcy to be history and we want to concentrate on the future."
"It's definitely a big step," said Ken Ream, of the International Union of Electrical Workers-Communications Workers of America. "There's a lot of other bridges to cross. But if we did not have an agreement, my guess is, the brewery would not survive."
Pittsburgh Brewing Acquisition hopes to take over the brewer of Iron City and other beers in March.
"If they take over, they will accept this contract," Ream said.
Revival plans
The acquisition group, led by private equity fund manager John Milne of Westport, Conn., came forward in December with plans to revive the brewery. Milne said his group would spend 1 million initially to jump-start its Iron City and IC Light brands. More would be spent on capital improvements.
Under the plan, Milne -- a previous business associate of Pittsburgh Brewing president Joseph Piccirilli -- would become the company's chief executive officer. Piccirilli will not play a role in the new company other than to help with the transition.
U.S. Bankruptcy Court Chief Judge M. Bruce McCullough postponed until Feb. 6 the deadline for the company to outline its plan to emerge from Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.
"We're cautiously optimistic that the brewery will continue and the employees will be employed at the brewery and the people of Pittsburgh will continue to enjoy Iron City products," Ream said.
Pittsburgh Brewing sought bankruptcy protection after the city Water and Sewer Authority threatened to cut off its water supply -- necessary for the production of beer -- because of 2.5 million in unpaid bills. The company disputed the charges.
The company has struggled to survive in recent years amid a declining beer market and tougher competition. It has sought bankruptcy protection several times in the past.
Copyright 2007 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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