Monday, 8 July 2013

Union made beer

The American trade union federation the AFL-CIO has drawn up a list of beers made by unionised workers.

Beers made by union labour in the US include Miller Lite by Teamsters and United Auto Workers and Budweiser, Michelob and Rolling Rock by members of the International Association of Machinists.
As in Britain, US microbreweries are by definition small-scale outfits, if not one-man bands then only employing one or two people who are often relatives or mates of the owner, so labour relations issues and disputes rarely if ever arise and the chances of them being unionised is pretty low. At the other end of the scale, global breweries like A-B InBev and Molson Coors which only produce keg beers seem to be the most unionised.
In Britain there are two types of brewery that don’t exist in the US: national brewers like Greene King and Marston’s, who produce lots of cask beer and recognise trade unions, and family owned regional breweries who also produce cask beer but with managements which are more traditional, conservative, paternalistic (or downright idiosyncratic) and tend not to.
So what is the lefty beer lover to do? I think you should drink the beer you like irrespective of who brews it although a boycott of a brewery involved in a strike or other dispute – as when InBev decided to close Strangeways Brewery in Manchester in 2005 – might sometimes be appropriate.
The emblem on the NUUBW label below looks very like that of Brauerei Schumacher in Düsseldorf. The union was founded in 1886 by German brewery workers in the United States and didn’t use English at its conventions or in its publications until 1903.


  1. A-B InBev and Molson Coors may be unionised but the former in Canada and the latter in Burton upon Trent are attacking workers' terms and conditions and trying to impose worse terms and lower pay. They may have got as far as recognition of the unions, but its natural companion, negotiation, is not something either company has accepted.

    1. Yes, quite right Nev. There's a petition here that I think we've both signed - other people should too.