Anchor Brewing Unionizes – A Lesson for Maine Beer Workers

Image result for we support anchor steam workersIn a historic effort, Anchor Brewing employees in San Francisco voted for recognition of the first labor union in the American craft brewing industry on March 13, 2019. This is a development which should send a clear message to all craft beer workers, including the roughly 2000 employees of Maine’s 135+ breweries. That message is – you can make a difference if you stick up for each other.

 

Why Unionize?

Most American macro-breweries have been union shops for many years, and as a result of worker organization, historic strikes, and a strong union culture, their employees enjoy healthy benefits packages and living wages far beyond what most craft breweries provide.

By contrast, craft brewery employees have been left far behind. According to the Maine Brewers’ Guild – a trade organization representing most Maine brewery owners – the average salary of brewery workers at our largest local breweries in 2017 was only $29,789 per year – hardly a living wage. This was actually a stark decline from 2016, when the average salary at these same breweries was $37,789. At smaller breweries, the average salary was an appalling $22,981.

Not only are we seeing Maine brewery workers who are shockingly underpaid – the clear trend is that they are actually making less money every year. In fact, this trend holds true far beyond the borders of Maine – according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, US craft brewery workers’ wages declined by 25% from 2006-2016.

Meanwhile, the owners of some of our largest craft breweries, who sell their beer all over the country and even internationally, seem to be doing very well for themselves. The Maine Brewers’ Guild boasts that craft breweries contribute $260 million to the economy – but it is abundantly clear that some few are getting a large share of the profits while most struggle to make ends meet. For an industry which boasts of its community involvement and “buy local” philosophy, it seems that these employers have an ethical blind spot when it comes to fair treatment of their own employees.

There is no reason to think that this trend will correct itself until Maine craft brewery workers organize and fight for their fair share. Indeed, that is the only way working people have ever improved their conditions. They have nothing to lose and everything to gain.

 

The Anchor Struggle

The Anchor Brewing campaign began in December of 2017, when a single worker, IWW member Garrett Kelly, began having conversations with his fellow workers on the shop floor about unionizing.

Anchor had been bought out by Tokyo-based Sapporo Holdings in 2017, and quickly moved to reduce wages, decrease contributions to employees health insurance, cut sick time in half, and eliminate a perk in which employees had been getting free beer at the end of their shift. Employees like Kelly were naturally upset at these changes.

Looking for assistance, FW Kelly reached out to the San Francisco chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA). With help from the DSA, he convened a meeting with a small group of his co-workers, who then became the organizing committee and nucleus of the campaign. “From there,” San Francisco DSA organizer Evan McLaughlin told Southern Maine IWW, “we held regular committee meetings to go over the list of coworkers, who we could confirm as being supportive of the effort, who we needed to reach out to, and who we needed to recruit to the committee. We made the decision that we would not go forward with signing union cards until we could confirm at least 65% support from the workers.”

Over the next year, this group of workers began meeting regularly and discreetly building support for the union campaign among their co-workers, with the goal of reaching that 65% in order to file for a union election. But their organization and struggle yielded results even before their campaign went public.

FW Kelly told SMIWW, “So we had a minor electrical fire one week before we were originally supposed to hold our vote that shut down production for a number of days. Workers were told to clock out and go home with no idea when they would be able to come back to work. After reaching out to a number of workers our organizing committee drafted a letter to management demanding pay for the lost hours. A few days later management agreed to cover all lost wages for employees affected by the fire. This was huge because our workers struggle as it is and a few days of lost wages would be catastrophic. I’m completely convinced that the only reason workers were paid was due to management seeing the level to which we were organized and able to mobilize our workers and the community in support of our campaign. It’s impossible to overstate just how helpful the support of the community, local politicians, the San Francisco DSA, and media were in applying pressure on management, but when it came down to organizing on the shop floor it came down 100% to the workers.”

Management, of course, were not cooperative. They tried some of the usual dirty tricks, but solidarity between workers on the shop floor won out in the end. FW McLaughlin told us, “The company hired an anti-union lawyer and rolled out some common anti-union tactics: captive audience meetings, lying or saying misleading things about how dues work, implying that there’s a secret set of union rules that you have to follow or you’ll be fired, claiming that workers will have their wages frozen for multiple years, claiming tipped workers will be forced to share tips with non-tipped workers, etc. They tried a little bit of red-baiting “you know the people that started this are socialists, right?” but it didn’t really stick.”

 

Maine Beer Workers – You Are Not Alone

You are in the best of company. Southern Maine IWW has your backs, and can help with any organizing campaigns. Other labor and political organizations will help you too, you have only to ask. Your communities believe in you and support you. But most of all, your 2000 fellow beer workers in Maine are a force to be reckoned with. Organize your brewery, and you will be able to negotiate for better pay and benefits, and better working conditions on the shop floor. Organize all the breweries, and the workers will be in a position to take control of the industry and reorganize it to improve the material conditions of every single beer worker, without the bosses skimming most of the profits off the top. Maine does not need more low wage jobs, more industries coming in and setting up, barely paying enough to keep some of their employees off public assistance, in an endless race to the bottom to keep their margins high on the backs of the workers. Maine needs industries which work for the workers.

All this starts with you, as beer workers, deciding, like Garrett Kelly did, that it’s time to make a stand. Whether you take that step is on you. Whether industry wages continue to decline, and bosses continue to leech off the Maine economy for their own profit, or we turn this situation around together through solidarity – that’s on you.

 

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IWOC Endorses National Prison Strike and Pledges Support

Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) announces its support for the national prison strike starting on August 21st, 2018.

Whereas, trusted comrades, collectives, and networks behind the prison walls have convened, called for a “National Prison Strike” from August 21 to Sept 9, 2018, issued a set of demands and guidelines and requested outside support, (1)

Whereas, we, the Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee of the IWW have heard their call for support and find the strike and its goals completely aligned with our material work and with all points of our Statement of Purpose (2),

Be it resolved, we endorse the strike, pledge our support and furthermore, embrace the work of solidarity.

We, as the national body of the IWOC network strongly encourage all outside branches and members-at-large to take on the support work to the utmost of their capacity and according to their best judgement.

As the strike develops, the scope of of work will also develop and will need further guidelines and ratification, so we offer this motion as a framework and a beginning. Further motions to amend are entertained as the work demands and teaches. The areas of work appropriate to our network, as we see them now, are as listed below:

1. Immediately add our name to the list of endorsing organizations and solicit other organizations to endorse and support.

2. Spread the word of the strike and demands inside as best and responsibly as we can so that our inside members and contacts can make informed decisions as to their positions and possible actions.

3. Media

a. National Media Committee: assist and coordinate with the Jailhouse Lawyers Speak/Millions for Prisoners media representatives according to their protocols in fielding and fulfilling media requests, strategizing, spreading social media, and assisting in generating original works in all available mediums.

b. Locals: generate, share and publish educational and agitational material in all available mediums.

c. Make available whatever vetted media representatives we can muster regionally and nationally to speak on the strike to groups or to media outlets (according to the prisoners’ protocols for media requests).

4. Anti-repression

a. To immediately begin building networks of outside supporters committed to phone blasts, demonstrations, and pressure campaigns of any type to combat repression and retaliation against prisoners. Repression is already underway and prisoner groups are already making requests for support.

b. Educate all IWOC members and groups, all other support groups and public at large on the tactics and depth of retaliations undertaken against prisoners.

5. Local demands: Outside IWOC groups can aid prisoners in their area in adding their own demands to local strike messaging. Such addition has been approved by existing inside strike leadership.

Let the work begin.

For solidarity over the walls and wire,

For a world without prisons,

For liberation!

***

(1) Addendum A

IWOC’s Statement of Purpose – July 31, 2014

  1. To further the revolutionary goals of incarcerated people and the IWW through mutual organizing of a worldwide union for emancipation from the prison system.
  2. To build class solidarity amongst members of the working class by connecting the struggle of people in prison, jails, and immigrant and juvenile detention centers to workers struggles locally and worldwide.
  3. To strategically and tactically support prisoners locally and worldwide, incorporating an analysis of white supremacy, patriarchy, prison culture, and capitalism.
  4. To actively struggle to end the criminalization, exploitation, and enslavement of working class people, which disproportionately targets people of color, immigrants, people with low income, LGBTQ people, young people, dissidents, and those with mental illness.
  5. To amplify the voices of working class people in prison, especially those engaging in collective action or who put their own lives at risk to improve the conditions of all.

(2) Addendum B

(Statement, demands and request for support via press release by Jailhouse Lawyers Speak, April 23, 2018).

National Prison Strike

Men and women incarcerated in prisons across the nation declare a nationwide strike in response to the riot in Lee Correctional Institution, a maximum security prison in South Carolina. Seven comrades lost their lives during a senseless uprising that could have been avoided had the prison not been so overcrowded from the greed wrought by mass incarceration, and a lack of respect for human life that is embedded in our nation’s penal ideology. These men and women are demanding humane living conditions, access to rehabilitation, sentencing reform and the end of modern day slavery.

These are the NATIONAL DEMANDS of the men and women in federal, immigration, and state prisons:

  1. Immediate improvements to the conditions of prisons and prison policies that recognize the humanity of imprisoned men and women.
  2. An immediate end to prison slavery. All persons imprisoned in any place of detention under United States jurisdiction must be paid the prevailing wage in their state or territory for their labor.
  3. The Prison Litigation Reform Act must be rescinded, allowing imprisoned humans a proper channel to address grievances and violations of their rights.
  4. The Truth in Sentencing Act and the Sentencing Reform Act must be rescinded so that imprisoned humans have a possibility of rehabilitation and parole. No human shall be sentenced to Death by Incarceration or serve any sentence without the possibility of parole.
  5. An immediate end to the racial overcharging, over-sentencing, and parole denials of Black and brown humans. Black humans shall no longer be denied parole because the victim of the crime was white, which is a particular problem in southern states.
  6. An immediate end to racist gang enhancement laws targeting Black and brown humans.
  7. No imprisoned human shall be denied access to rehabilitation programs at their place of detention because of their label as a violent offender.
  8. State prisons must be funded specifically to offer more rehabilitation services.
  9. Pell grants must be reinstated in all US states and territories.
  10. The voting rights of all confined citizens serving prison sentences, pretrial detainees, and so-called “ex-felons” must be counted. Representation is demanded. All voices count.

We all agree to spread this strike throughout the prisons of Ameri$$$a! From August 21st to September 9th, 2018, men and women in prisons across the nation will strike in the following manner:

  • Work Strikes: Prisoners will not report to assigned jobs. Each place of detention will determine how long its strike will last. Some of these strikes may translate into a local list of demands designed to improve conditions and reduce harm within the prison.
  • Sit-ins : In certain prisons, men and women will engage in peaceful sit – in protests.
  • Boycotts: All spending should be halted. We ask those outside the walls not to make financial judgments for those inside. Men and women on the in side will inform you if they are participating in this boycott.
  • Hunger Strikes: Men and women shall refuse to eat.

We support the call of Free Alabama Movement Campaign to “Redistribute the Pain” 2018 as Bennu Hannibal Ra – Sun, formerly known as Melvin Ray has laid out (with the exception of refusing visitation). See these principles described here: https://redistributethepain.wordpress.com/

How You Can Help

  • Make the nation take a look at our demands. Demand action on our demands by contacting your local, state, and federal political representatives with these demands. Ask them where they stand.
  • Spread the strike and word of the strike in every place of detention.
  • Contact a supporting local organization to see how you can be supportive. If you are unsure of who to connect with, email millionsforprisonersmarch@gmail.com
  • Be prepared by making contact with people in prison, family members of prisoners, and prisoner support organizations in your state to assist in notifying the public and media on strike conditions.
  • Assist in our announced initiatives to have the votes of people in jail and prison counted in elections.

For the Media: Inquiries should be directed to
prisonstrikemedia@gmail.com

Another Group of Burgerville Fast Food Workers Join IWW

The following report comes from the Burgerville Workers Union, a part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

82nd and Glisan has joined the union! On May 18th, workers at Burgerville #4 announced to management that they were officially signing up with the BVWU, naming unjust firings, inconsistent scheduling, and low wages as some key concerns.

“Many of us can hardly make rent and other necessities, even while working full time. We have erratic schedules which makes it hard for us to take care of our kids, travel to and from work, and go to school,” workers said in their official announcement today. “We deserve better.”

With two successful union elections in the bag, the BVWU’s wins just keep coming! Welcome to the union, 82nd and Glisan. Much love and solidarity.

Phone and Email Zap to Support Prisoner Resistance in Missouri

Prisoners at CRCC in Missouri are already engaging in collective resistance leading up to the National Prisoner Strike which will occur August 21st through September 9th and they need our support.

There are also numerous IWW members in this facility. The details of this situation are below the call in script.

Please call The following offices in this order:

1. Warden of CRCC Rhonda Pash
816-632-2727

2. Director Anne L. Precythe OR Deputy Director Matt Sturm (ask for either//both)
573-526-6607

(If they aren’t available, ask to leave a message!)

Also, email rhonda.pash@doc.mo.gov, anne.precythe@doc.mo.gov, matt.strum@doc.mo.gov, alana.boyles@doc.mo.gov

Script:

“I would like to know why prisoners at CRCC are being denied medical attention, showers, law library access for court deadlines, visitation, feeding on time, and hot meals. I’ve heard they are being fed bags of green baloney and hard biscuits. Why is that baloney green? Staff is telling prisoners they may be facing these restrictions for 2 months. Why is this happening and when is this situation going to be corrected?”

Background Info:

On Saturday, May 12th, prisoners at Crossroads Correctional Center attempted to peacefully negotiate improved conditions however the situation escalated and they ended up hot wiring forklifts, tearing down gates, and destroying parts of the prison.

We received this report from inside, “My homies call me Tiny G. from Crossroads C. Missouri. A place known in here as the ‘only destination for hell’. We send G love to all the homies standing up. We had no demands here at Crossroads. Inmates of every race and none Gs participated. We only wanted them to allow rehabilitation programs and back recreation time. Anne L. Precythe has not heard our words to be treated right in years. Staff acted like we were kids to be punished. The admin want all the Gs to kill each other like in south carolina. This allows staff to justify locking inmates down for money raises. Inmates did not hurt the staff intentionally. Staff know how badly inmates here are being treated. All the Gs here will be joining, with other inmates, the strike August 21 throughout the state. Staff already know. August 21 was wrote on walls. We are calling on all Gs to join us as one around the Nation on August 21. Stage more sit ins. Make peace for this. The Gs here are contacting our lines in others states.”

Media Quotes:

“The riot began as what inmates call a sit-down, where they ignore officer commands and do not get up.

“We are going to start peaceful and we are going to let you guys know something is wrong,” the officer said about a conversation he had with an inmate. “And he said, ‘well, from there we don’t know where it is going to turn.’”

Among other areas, the inmates destroyed the food area, kitchen, and a manufacturing facility after hot-wiring forklifts to break down the gates to get in.

“It shut down a third of our institution and a building the size of two football fields was completely trashed on the inside,” said the corrections officer.

Employees who were inside the prison during the riot said one of the most alarming things is that four gangs inside the prison — who usually hate and fight each other — actually banded together to organize and pull it off.

Officers from the Western Missouri Correctional Facility next door, as well as law enforcement officers from city and county agencies, were called in to help gain control, which took about 6 hours.

Monday, a spokesperson with the Dept. of Corrections acknowledged the damage is more extensive than they first thought and said the incident is still under investigation.

No one was injured, but a prison employee who was there told FOX4 that after the riot, the inmates warned, “it was property this time. It will be staff next time.”

Phone Zap to Support IWW Workers in Seattle

Take action to support Wobblies in Seattle, Washington fighting on the job.

In support of our fellow workers in IU650 at Grassroots Campaigns, Inc., we are calling on all Wobblies and friends to participate in a phone zap of GCI’s headquarters! We’re asking people to call between 9am and 5pm East Coast time, 6am-2pm West Coast.

GCI canvassers fundraise on the street for a variety of “progressive” organizations. The company itself, though, is the very model of exploitation under capitalism, with brutal turnover, low wages and benefits, and blatant union busting.

In March of this year, GCI’s Seattle Director and members of IWW IU650 at GCI signed and ratified a union contract. In the contract, the workers were guaranteed a number of paid holidays, including May 1 (International Workers Day). GCI has since violated the contract, and the workers were not paid for that holiday.

We are asking all Wobblies and allies to call GCI’s headquarters to remind them of their financial and legal obligation to honor the contract signed with their workers. We want to pressure them to uphold this specific part of the contract as well as remind them that there will be pushback if they violate other parts of the contract as well.

Info:

(617) 830-7986 and (979) 448-8882 Legal Department and chief union buster (Laurie Owen) lowen@grassrootscampaigns.com
(617) 423-0431 National Admin
(617) 542-0830 GCI Payroll payroll@grassrootscampaigns.com
(617) 338-7882 Central Field Office
(860) 575-0941 Steve King (Assistant National Director) sking@grassrootscampaigns.com
(617) 338-7883
(269) 599-4398  Accounting Department (David Hackman)

Sample Script:

Hello. My name is __________. (first name is fine)

I am calling about the unionized workers at the Seattle branch of GCI. I understand that they signed a contract with the Seattle Director and in that contract, they were guaranteed some paid holidays. It has come to my attention that the workers were not paid for May 1st or “May Day,” which was specified in their contract. I demand that they be paid according to the contract that was signed between the union and your company.

I also want to remind you that GCI has a financial and legal obligation to honor the contract that was signed by your company and the workers.

There is no good reason why you should not honor the contract. Your company’s representative engaged in contract negotiations, this contract is the result, and now your company has to live up to it.

Pay the workers now. Thank you for your time.

Burgerville Workers Union Wins Second Victory

The following statement was released yesterday from the Burgerville Workers Union, after another store successfully won union recognition. The BVWU is the first officially recognized fast food union in the United States and is a part of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW).

Today Burgerville workers once again voted overwhelmingly in favor of the BVWU, this time at the Gladstone location. This is the second NLRB election the BVWU has won in a month. The first, at 92nd and Powell, made us the only fast food union in the country, and this one demonstrates the momentum the BVWU has going into contract negotiations.

Gladstone workers in particular deserve extra celebration for their win today. Despite the friendly attitude Burgerville has taken in the press about being willing to work with the union, Gladstone workers didn’t see anything close to friendliness on the shop floor. During the election, despite all their words of openness and cooperation, Burgerville was up to its old tricks: retaliation, intimidation, even straight up lying. Gladstone workers faced down all of that and STILL won a major victory for the union. Standing up to your boss like that takes bravery and every one of them deserves applause.

The win at 92nd wasn’t the end of the fight, and neither is this win at Gladstone. The fight won’t be over until Burgerville stops paying us poverty wages, stops threatening undocumented immigrants through their use of e-verify, and stops treating us like we’re disposable. We demand respect, and we won’t stop until we get it. Gladstone is an important step in that journey.

Remember too that the boycott is on until the company signs a fair contract. They’re not off the hook yet.

NC IWOC Prisoner Petition Against Mailroom Censorship

Radical prisoner and Incarcerated Workers Organizing Committee (IWOC) member Stanley Corbett, Jr., recently set up a petition to protest mailroom censorship at Maury Correctional.

The petition can be signed here. It reads:

Hey everyone. My name is Stanley Corbett Jr. I’m currently housed in solitary confinement at Maury Correctional Institution in Maury, NC. I’m seeking for the Secretary of Corrections, Erik Hook, here in North Carolina, to create a policy and procedure stating that only mailroom staff be allowed to touch prisoners’ incoming and outgoing mail, unless there’s a security interest involved, and that all incoming and outgoing mail is logged, not just legal mail.

Each facility (prison) has mailroom staff that scans our incoming and outgoing mail, but mailroom staff do not pick up mail directly from us, nor do mailroom staff deliver mail directly to us. Instead, mailroom staff picks up mail from each unit’s mailbox, and delivers mail to each unit’s supervisor’s office, then the unit officers deliver the personal mail to us. They are the same officers that I, and thousands of other prisoners, have filed grievances, petitions, and civil complaints against. They are also the same officers who I, and thousands of other prisoners, have had verbal or physical altercations with. Due to these facts a lot of these correctional officers censor my/our incoming and outgoing mail, or they trash it! And sometimes the officers deliver my/our mail to other prisoners, intentionally. There are thousands of prisoners within the NC department of Public Safety’s Division of Adult Corrections who are experiencing the same issues.

Anytime I, and thousands of other prisoners, address the problem to the mailroom supervisor(s), they tell me/us to address the problem to unit management, but when I/we address the problem to unit management, they tell me/us to address the problem to the mailroom staff. The problem never gets resolved because the mailroom staff shifts the burden on the unit staff and vice versa. At most facilities the mailroom staff delivers legal mail to our cell doors, in which we have to sign for it to receive it, but they do not deliver our personal mail to our cell doors, nor do they pick up our personal/legal mail from our cell doors.

If I lose this campaign, my freedom of speech rights (and other federal laws) will continue to be violated along with thousands of other prisoners’ rights, including your rights! If I win this campaign, it will stop corrupt correctional offers from retaliating against me and thousands of other prisoners; it will stop corrupt correctional officers from violating federal laws; it will help me and thousands of other prisoners maintain communication with society (family, friends, and associates); it will help protect your (the public’s) freedom of speech rights; and it will help stop a lot of prisoners from harming or killing themselves–due to being cut off from society by corrupt correctional officers. They put us in solitary confinement for long periods (5, 10, and 20 years), then stop our communication with society. Isn’t that mental torture?!