FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Boycotting Big Beer

When Obama sat down for a beer in the White House Rose Garden with Professor Gates and Sergeant Crowley, they all turned their backs on the smaller, craft brewers of the country. Obama chose Bud Light, Gates asked for Red Stripe, and Crowley drank Blue Moon.

One of the major craft brewers based where I live in Vermont is Magic Hat, a brewery with a delicious array of brews. That brewery issued a press release following the “Beer Summit” explaining, “Craft Brewers the country over are chagrined by the President’s choice to consume a beer owned by a company based outside of America’s borders. Bud Light, owned by Belgium-based AB InBev, and Blue Moon, owned by London-based SAB MillerCoors, together control 94% of the beer market in the United States. However, the United States boasts over 1,500 craft brewers, the majority being made up of small Main Street Businesses that employ less than 50 people.”

This encounter at the Rose Garden provides a perfect time to reflect on why we should all boycott the beer monopolies of the world.

One reason to boycott large breweries is the union busting, right wing culture that dominates some of the biggest breweries in America. Yuengling, America’s oldest brewery, and Coors, America’s biggest brewery, both offer insights into the ugly political and labor practices of this multi-billion dollar industry.

In 2007 Yuengling owner Dick Yuengling told his workers, “the writing was on the wall” and that if they didn’t get rid of the union he would close the brewery and open up shop in a location in the southern US where labor was cheaper. Faced with the choice of looking for work in an area with few jobs, the workers decided to kick the union out.

At the time, Patrick Eiding, then-president of the AFL-CIO union in Philadelphia said of Mr. Yuengling, “If he doesn’t want union people, then I would say union people shouldn’t drink his beer.”

Municipal worker Don Long said he would follow along with the boycott, explaining that Yuengling “doesn’t care for his workers — he just cares about how much money he can make.”

I’ve joined in a boycott against this beer, and have convinced some of my friends to do so as well. But it’s really Coors Brewing Company that takes the cake for supporting conservative causes and busting unions.

Over the years the Coors family has contributed handsomely to plenty of conservative projects and organizations. Reading about their family’s philanthropy is like reading a history of the right wing in America.

Joseph Coors was an advisor to Ronald Reagan, provided the founding grant to the infamous Heritage Foundation as well as the right wing Free Congress Foundation, which asks the following question on its website: “Will America return to the culture that made it great, our traditional, Judeo-Christian, Western culture?” If not, the US will, revert to “no less than a third world country.”

Joseph Coors really put his money where his right wing heart was when he donated a $65,000 plane to the Contras in the covert US war against the Nicaraguan Sandinistas in the 1980s. It’s high time to raise a glass of non-Coors beer in solidarity with the Sandinistas. But here’s another reason to boycott America’s most successful brewing company; their union busting.

In 1977, in Colorado, home to the company’s brewery, Coors hired scabs to replace workers on strike at the plant. Jeff Coors, the president of the family company at the time, told the Los Angeles Times that he wouldn’t back down because agreeing to union demands was like “inviting the Russians in to take over America.”

But the family’s repression of workers’ rights didn’t stop there. Annika Carlson writing about the Coors’ legacy at Campus Progress, says, “Until 1986, prospective Coors employees were sometimes required to take lie detector tests, answering questions about their sexual orientation, communist leanings, and how often they changed their underwear.”

In 2004, when Peter Coors, the chairman of the Coors Brewing Company ran for Senate as a Republican from Colorado, local union leaders were quick to criticize the company’s poor labor relations. Steve Adams, the president of the Colorado AFL-CIO at the time, told USA Today, “Peter Coors is a Republican, and there are very few Republicans who support workers’ rights. The Coors company track record is not friendly to workers’ rights.” To this day, many of Denver’s 23,000 Food and Commercial Workers union still boycott Coors beer due to the company’s crackdowns on labor rights in the 1970s.

You can show that drinking is a very political act by turning your back on the big breweries. Or, as Carlson says about Coors, “When cracking open a cold one, remember to toast the things that make the Coors family great: union-busting, lie-detecting, Heritage-funding, double-talking and, of course, its beer.”

BENJAMIN DANGL is currently based in Paraguay and is the author of “The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia” (AK Press). He edits UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Email: Bendangl(at)gmail(dot)com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

More articles by:

Benjamin Dangl has worked as a journalist throughout Latin America, covering social movements and politics in the region for over a decade. He is the author of the books Dancing with Dynamite: Social Movements and States in Latin America, and The Price of Fire: Resource Wars and Social Movements in Bolivia. Dangl is currently a doctoral candidate in Latin American History at McGill University, and edits UpsideDownWorld.org, a website on activism and politics in Latin America, and TowardFreedom.com, a progressive perspective on world events. Twitter: https://twitter.com/bendangl Email: BenDangl(at)gmail(dot)com

July 17, 2018
Conn Hallinan
Trump & The Big Bad Bugs
Robert Hunziker
Trump Kills Science, Nature Strikes Back
John Grant
The Politics of Cruelty
Kenneth Surin
Calculated Buffoonery: Trump in the UK
Binoy Kampmark
Helsinki Theatrics: Trump Meets Putin
Patrick Bond
BRICS From Above, Seen Critically From Below
Jim Kavanagh
Fighting Fake Stories: The New Yorker, Israel and Obama
Daniel Falcone
Chomsky on the Trump NATO Ruse
W. T. Whitney
Oil Underground in Neuquén, Argentina – and a New US Military Base There
Doug Rawlings
Ken Burns’ “The Vietnam War” was Nominated for an Emmy, Does It Deserve It?
Rajan Menon
The United States of Inequality
Thomas Knapp
Have Mueller and Rosenstein Finally Gone Too Far?
Cesar Chelala
An Insatiable Salesman
Dean Baker
Truth, Trump and the Washington Post
Mel Gurtov
Human Rights Trumped
Binoy Kampmark
Putin’s Football Gambit: How the World Cup Paid Off
July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail