By Evan Bleier / February 8, 2019

America’s First Craft Brewery Is Unionizing 

Workers at Anchor Brewing Company want to become a union shop.

SAN ANSELMO, CA - AUGUST 03:  Bottles of Anchor Steam beer are displayed on August 3, 2017 in San Anselmo, California. San Francisco based Anchor Brewing announced plans to sell to JapanÕs Sapporo Holdings Ltd for an undisclosed amount. Anchor Steam has brewed in San Francisco for 121 years.  (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)
SAN ANSELMO, CA - AUGUST 03: Bottles of Anchor Steam beer are displayed on August 3, 2017 in San Anselmo, California. San Francisco based Anchor Brewing announced plans to sell to JapanÕs Sapporo Holdings Ltd for an undisclosed amount. Anchor Steam has brewed in San Francisco for 121 years. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Founded in 1965, Anchor Brewing Company was the first modern craft brewery in America.

And, if all goes as planned, it will be the first craft brewery in America to unionize.

Earlier this week, workers at the San Francisco-based company, which employs approximately 160 people in all, announced they are organizing with help from the International Longshoremen & Warehouse Union and want to become a union shop.

The San Francisco chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America is also assisting in the effort.

Workers – many of whom make less than $20 per hours – at the brewery have become uneasy after Sapporo USA (which purchased Anchor for $85 million in 2017) has begun to introduce a more corporate culture at the brewery, including cutting down on free beer between shifts.

“It’s a hot shop right now because they just took away our beer privilege,” part-time employee Denny Miller told Splinter. “This is just the beginning. If we don’t organize and show some unity there, who knows what they’re going to do next.”

Agustin Ramirez, a lead organizer with the ILWU, said Anchor’s drive could help workers at other craft breweries unionize if the effort is successful.

“If we are successful and able to, to deliver, with the support of the workers, a good contract, that is always an example of the road that others can follow,” Ramirez told Splinter.

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