Aug 22, 2023
This summer has truly turned out to be a hot labor summer, with a number of high-profile labor actions stretching across industries and across the country, from the streets of Hollywood to the shop floors at UPS — things are heating up.
With that said, there is a story that hasn’t hit headlines in the same way as some of these other actions and confrontations. And that’s the story of Anchor Brewery in San Francisco. You might have seen their Anchor Steam beer in the beer aisle before, or heard about their unionization campaign that took place in 2019 after this locally beloved brewery was bought by a giant beer conglomerate, Sapporo. That unionization campaign was successful, but recently, Sapporo abruptly, and controversially, closed Anchor Brewing down. Now, some of the workers at Anchor who don’t want to see this centuries-old institution stripped for parts, want to turn the brewery into a worker-owned cooperative.
This is really a sort of David and Goliath story, and to tell it, we’ve brought on Pedro Mancilla, who led the Anchor Brewery tour program, is a member of the ILWU Local 6 Warehouse Union, and is part of the team working on the cooperativization campaign.
Pedro has an almost encyclopedic knowledge of beer and beer history, and he begins by giving us a sort of virtual tour of the San Francisco brewery’s history and also a bit of San Francisco labor history. He then talks about the union, the struggles with Sapporo, the effort to convert Anchor into a worker cooperative, and also, how local Bay Area beer producers and enjoyers are coming together in an act of true solidarity to stand behind the workers that have been the backbone of this historic brewery.
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