Goose Island pushed back on union drive, then laid off organizers

Discussion in 'Beer News & Releases' started by thebeers, Oct 2, 2021.

  1. BigIronH

    BigIronH Savant (956) Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
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    I agree with much of what you said but as a few have expressed in this thread and others regarding other issues, it seems like there is a general need amongst the community to voice opinions as several feel talking about these issues raises awareness and starts a dialogue around things most of us do have an opinion on whether we spend our money in that particular way or not.

    I particularly agree that it is futile conversation which is why I said in my original statement
    I agree BA is a small sample size but it’s the sample we have to work with when we’re gauging the impact a particular issue is going to have on our community. I too make my own decisions when it comes to who and what I choose to support but I would be lying if I said I learned nothing from the other responses in this thread.

    Cheers, Chuck. Hope you’re doing well, buddy.
     
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  2. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,223) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    Before we all charge too far down the path carrying our torches and pitchforks, it might be worth remembering all we have (so far) is one article by a guy who has a bit of history bordering on poison pen with GI (if not crossing the border).

    Didn't one of those Chicago locations remain outside of the original purchase for awhile? I wonder if that is the history behind the different pay scales.

    Even so, if it has not been corrected by now that is (IMO) amateur-hour management. Employee pay scales are typically a big deal with lots of HR behind it for large corporations. I can't imagine different employee pay scales being justified because you work at one location or the other when they are 15 minutes or so apart in the same city.
     
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  3. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,317) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Not Ballantine that I'm aware of (and I've got some history with that brewer :wink:).

    There is a story about yeast dying during the infamous 2.5 month 1949 NYC CIO Brewer Workers strike at Trommer's Brooklyn brewery but that was because the management guys who were assigned to monitor the yeast snuck out of the brewery and couldn't get back in.

    The story always struck me as possibly apocryphal since Trommer's operated two brewery in the NY Metro area, the original in Brooklyn and the brewery in Orange, NJ (which Liebmann/Rheingold bought after that '49 NYC strike operated into the mid-1970s) but, given the close distant between the two facilities, it's possible that the NJ plant (which was not struck AFAIK since those workers were in the AFL Teamsters) used the Brooklyn yeast, which was delivered as needed (?).

    But that's one example (out of around 700 US breweries that closed between Repeal and beginning of the "Craft Era") :wink:. I mean, sure, when brewing companies were in trouble having highly paid, militant workforce seldom helped but there are numerous examples of unions signing give-back contacts and allowing layoffs to struggling brewers but most folded anyway. (One example was Ballantine - where the IBT Local 843 agreed to a cut 100 jobs and take a 5% pay decrease in January 1972 only to have the new owners announce the closing of the brewery 2 months later.

    Yeah, the Milwaukee Strike was pretty bad but some of that info is questionable:
    There's no record of any brewery in Peru, Indiana in the post-Repeal era.
    Well, post-WWII, AB, Schlitz and Pabst were running neck and neck. With Schlitz #1 in 1950-1952, AB #1 1953-1954, Schlitz 1955-56, and AB #1 1957-on. So, can Schlitz's #2 spot really be blamed on the strike when they topped AB a few years later twice?
    .

    Hmm... never came across that info. Interesting. It seems it was the local Milwaukee brewers association that negotiated as a group with the Brewery Workers locals (followed by the Wisconsin Brewers Assoc.) not the national United States Brewers Association.

    Blatz was owned by the wine/spirits company Schenley at the time and I have a vague recollection that Schenley had trouble with the authorities over mob connections. By 1958, Pabst had bought Blatz and then spend the next few years unsuccessfully battling with the Feds over anti-Trust violations, eventually selling the brand (just about the only thing left of the brewery by then) to Heileman in the mid-60s.
     
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  4. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,654) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
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    Union made is cheaper? Now that's a whole new perspective.
     
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  5. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,906) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    Seems to be the case in the beer world. AB products are certainly cheaper than the non-union made craft beers i have available to me.
     
  6. readyski

    readyski Aspirant (291) Jun 4, 2005 California
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    I think economy of scale has something to do with that.
     
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  7. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Savant (993) May 3, 2016 Illinois
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    1- we would really need Goose to verify the pay scale discrepancies. 2- And two address why. Perhaps the taproom has to offer more base wage because it is in the middle of nowhere or because the shift hour suck (opened 5 days a week two of which are
    weekend days). There also isn’t food service at Fulton to boost tip money. Lots of variables going on we don’t know. Maybe the taproom is the the all star team and goose wants the place to be their crown jewel so they play the employees over there more to keep them from jumping ship. Really all hearsay at this point .
     
  8. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,223) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    Lots of variables we don't know about, which was the point I made in the first half of my post that you didn't quote.

    IF any/all if the variables you mention are the explanation, it is still amateur-hour management to not make that broadly known among the employees. It is also amateur-hour management to have an employee event where one "class" of employees are servants to the other (again, assuming that is what actually happened as poison-penned, err, reported.)

    We don't have many actual documented facts here.
     
  9. unlikelyspiderperson

    unlikelyspiderperson Poo-Bah (1,906) Mar 12, 2013 California
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    I never said anything about the price being caused by union status. My original comment was in response to someone supposing that GI not unionizing was somehow better for consumers. I don't see any evidence that brewery unionization has done any harm to consumers.
     
  10. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,421) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    Not sure why people are questioning the vileness of the Hall family. The Halls have literally have pissed on the same class of workers, it's been well "documented" in Chicago.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/dini...slands-greg-hall-contrite-20110411-story.html

    Oh, but Greg felt "awful" about it. I'm sure John also feels awful about pissing on GI employees and telling them they would all lose their jobs if they voted to join the union. The same people that enriched him for decades.

     
  11. 57md

    57md Poo-Bah (3,271) Aug 22, 2011 Pennsylvania
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    I'm not sure what is so "disruptive" about workers asserting their rights in the workplace - the location where we spend about 30% of our lives.

    As for higher costs, that pretty much a red herring. Some of the cheapest beers on the market are union made beers. Also, products tend to be priced at the level that the market will allow. Take, for example, Nike sneakers. They are made in Asian countries using the cheapest labor possible, yet some models cost hundreds of dollars.
     
  12. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,317) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Not if the employer thinks they are being "disruptive" because they are attempting to form a union, or jointly bargain or exchange information about their pay and/or working conditions.
     
  13. Patrick_OKC

    Patrick_OKC Aspirant (244) Apr 26, 2017 Texas
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    Well, as you note, there are a number of circumstances in which an employer may conclude that an employee is being disruptive without countermanding the attempt to form a union. Many instances of disruption have nothing to do with forming a union. We don't know all the facts in this instance, do we?
     
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  14. billandsuz

    billandsuz Devotee (493) Sep 1, 2004 New York

    Coincidence? Because sure smells like a rat.

    Goose Island management has not demonstrated any evidence to convince anyone they are anything but blatantly anti labor.

    So sure, let's see how it plays out.
    And let's not pretend or give them the benefit of doubt.

    I mean, they fired the union organizers and then gave the remainders a bonus, after saying they terminated certain employees due to financial constraints.

    Such a coincidence? I say rat.
    Cheers.
     
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  15. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,654) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
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    During the course of my career I've experienced both abusive employers and disruptive employees. I'm firmly on the side of right irrespective of which side of the line they are standing.
     
  16. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (3,758) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
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    Reality check time: the company claims the workers were fired because of tough economic times due to COVID. The workers believe that at least some were fired for organizing. The storyline about workers being disruptive was invented by someone in this thread (possibly the guy who said he doesn’t appreciate posts about things other than the liquid?).

    If we’re going to invent hypotheticals, let’s try to be more creative about it. Like, the workers were industrial spies for Coors and got caught stealing AB’s secret formula. Or they claimed to have video of the Hall urination incident and threatened to release it without a payment of $1 Billion, but after being paid, it became clear the video was of someone else. Or they themselves were caught urinating in this year’s batch of BCBS. Something interesting like that, yes?
     
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  17. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Savant (993) May 3, 2016 Illinois
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    :thinking_face:That would explain the abv variations between bottles of BCBS.
     
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  18. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,223) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    We need more facts to come out to save this thread from plunging irredeemably down the abyss of absurdity.
     
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  19. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (3,758) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
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    Yes, more facts! Were the fired workers part of a secret temperance society that was watering down the once great Honkers Ale? Until we know for certain, it’s impossible to have an opinion on Goose Island’s union-busting activity.
     
  20. MNAle

    MNAle Poo-Bah (2,223) Sep 6, 2011 Minnesota
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    Too late.... down the abyss we go...
     
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  21. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (9,093) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
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    No, Inbev doesn't produce The Abyss, that's Deschutes' beer.
     
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  22. Squire

    Squire Poo-Bah (2,654) Jul 16, 2015 Mississippi
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    Broad is the path that leads to the abyss.
     
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  23. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,421) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    https://finance.yahoo.com/news/starbucks-union-vote-sets-watershed-175940803.html

    Reading an article regarding the unionization of three Starbucks stores in the Buffalo region. Same Union busting tactics taking place there, including the Starbucks Founder flown in to urge a no vote, similar to AB carting in John Hall’s sellout ass to threaten employees with closures if they did unionize (last I checked the unionized Fulton Street Taproom is still open). Schultz was actually was carted away by lawyers when asked a simple question.

    The article also mention the negligible if any sanctions employers face even after being proven to have wantonly violating US Laws regarding union organization:

     
  24. thebeers

    thebeers Poo-Bah (3,758) Sep 10, 2014 Pennsylvania
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    I was just thinking the other day about Hall’s alleged comment about Goose Island / AB / InBev not being right for a union, and how offensive it was not only based on how so much of the company he sold to is already unionized, but also in terms of Chicago’s storied history as one of the greatest union towns on the planet.

    I really hope that the BCBS tasting thread that people are trying to annualize this year can be opened up to a “BBA Stouts” thread instead. Anyone have ideas on Stouts they might try there instead? I’m looking at Ralphius, which also comes out on Black Friday, but it’s not widely available outside eastern PA.
     
  25. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,421) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    I created and hosted it last year. It was my first “craft” beer after SNPA in Vegas casinos.

    I stepped down hosting because of this and a few other reasons. I have no plans to purchase GI in the future. It will be the first year since I dove into craft I am not purchasing any GI BCBS.

    If I do participate in the tasting, I’ll either taste a few of my remaining cellar offerings and note why I am not drinking or buying 2021 versions (there are several), or pull out a few Wild Onion Drago variants (either in the thread or in NBW/NBS. This beer slayed Goose Island in a blind tasting tournament held last year of local Chicago BA imperial stouts.

    https://www.chicagotribune.com/dini...0200331-md5ngniufzbitpxcto6mrzzjea-story.html
     
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  26. BigIronH

    BigIronH Savant (956) Oct 31, 2019 Michigan
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    I think the threads should still be separate myself. The beer is still iconic in its own right the same way CBS is still iconic after the Founders controversy. This kind of stuff bothers a lot of us but I still think there’s a fair share of us that will continue to buy the beer and enjoy it.

    Cheers.
     
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  27. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,317) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Oh, yeah. No doubt about that, and "union avoidance" law firms have used similar attacks and methods for decades. Violations of labor law, like many other laws, are ...uh, let's say "unevenly" punished.
    Yahoo somewhat understates the legal rights of workers here. Yeah, companies do not have to bargain when there has been no formal majority union vote (hell, they get away with it even when there is an elected union via an NLRB procedure) but that does not mean a minority of workers can't "...join together to advance their interests as employees...(since) It is unlawful for an employer to interfere with, restrain, or coerce employees in the exercise of their rights" as noted on that NLRB website.

    In some respects, the NLRA makes it difficult if not impossible for small local unions to exist - something that was common in many industries previous to the NLRA. The sit-down strike wave of the 1930s that led to the organizing of many industries certainly affected numerous companies where the number of actual union members was small to non-existent.

    So, wait - workers at that GI facility are Teamsters? (It's been over a month - who can remember stuff from that long ago :wink:. Not me.) I thought the entire company was still non-union.
     
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  28. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,421) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    Thanks for correcting. I stand by the rest of post except for the line quoted. (I shouldn't post this early in the AM).

    It was reported Fulton Brewery and Taproom employees have better benefits and pay, but they are not union at this point. Lagunitas is the lone union brewery operating in Chicago (Teamsters), though the large distributors here have union warehouse and drivers.

    That said, by volume, the vast majority of GI beer is union brewed, since it is primarily brewed in the union AB plants in Baldwinsville New York and Fort Collins Colorado. Bourbon County and some of their smaller batch beers are still produced at the Chicago breweries.
     
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  29. ChicagoJ

    ChicagoJ Meyvn (1,421) Feb 2, 2015 Illinois

    Well, at least there are no reports John Hall invoked the Holocaust like the Starbucks founder did, comparing the benevolence of a non-union Starbucks to Jewish people sharing blankets during the Holocaust.

    Incredible that lawyers pulled him off the stage to avoid answering a worker question regarding Starbucks’ anti-union activity, BUT DID NOT pull him off the stage after this statement. Tells you a lot about the priorities of Starbucks, and others in senior leadership positions.

    https://www.nbcnews.com/business/bu...t-analogy-describe-coffee-companys-m-rcna5170

    “Not everyone, but most people, shared their blanket with five other people,” Schultz says, adding that he was inspired to share his own “blanket” with five other people. “So much of that story is threaded into what we’ve tried to do at Starbucks — is share our blanket.”

    Holocaust comparison just before the 45 minute mark. This YouTube video is hosted on Starbucks own website.

     
  30. CBlack85

    CBlack85 Crusader (785) Jul 12, 2009 South Carolina
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    Unfortunately comparisons to Nazi's/Hitler to those you disagree with, and comparisons to slavery/holocaust or other historic oppression if you are in the least bit inconvenienced are becoming all to common.
     
  31. HouseofWortship

    HouseofWortship Savant (993) May 3, 2016 Illinois
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    Why are you two offended? Does it actually offend you or are you offended because you expect society to expect you to be offended? He’s not demonizing anyone, he simply saying he feels like they take care of their employees. And to be fair regardless of their union views , a lot of people went to work at Starbucks solely because they offered health care when most other fast food places didn’t.
     
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  32. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,317) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    That must be some blanket he's got... (I'm thinkin' - maybe he could even add a person #6 or even more?)
    So in his Death Camp analogy, who are the Nazis?
     
  33. HawksBeerFan

    HawksBeerFan Disciple (330) Dec 24, 2011 Illinois
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    This thread has been interesting reading, as if I needed more reasons to not buy Goose Island and BCBS. I've really cut down the amount of BCBS I buy but this may be the last straw for me. Really disappointing stuff about the Halls too.
     
  34. AMessenger

    AMessenger Initiate (29) Mar 17, 2018 Pennsylvania

    There is an assumption that this is bullshit but it could actually be true - the location could be on thin ice already where an increase in operations cost can no longer be absorbed.

    Just in general, union or not, the cost of operating a business is going up everywhere. It is a nice idea that increased costs can just be absorbed by the business by reducing profits or that customer will be willing to accept higher prices. In some cases that’s probably true but I would bet that it isn’t true in a lot of cases and that the increased operating costs being seen now is going to result in places going out of business.

    These business/labor negotiations are like games of chicken - how close to killing the business, and losing all the jobs being negotiated over, are they willing to get?
     
  35. jesskidden

    jesskidden Poo-Bah (2,317) Aug 10, 2005 New Jersey
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    Sure. That explains why thousands of companies, here and especially internationally, have organized workplaces, negotiated contracts every 3-5 years with their employees' chosen union(s), and have survived and prospered for many decades.

    Somehow when breweries go out of business or are sold off, it's seen as a "natural" part of capitalism - the smaller brewers often pay for more raw materials, packaging and equipment due, in large part, to the macro's economies of scale - hey, that's just how it goes, that's business. Welcome to the real world.

    No one expects Ball or Cargill or Barth-Haas to give a company a break - come on, competition and profit are the basis of the economic system. And consumers accept that the so-called "craft" beers cost more because of those factors.

    But if employees want higher wages or just parity with the owner's other employees, better benefits and more humane working conditions - Oh, they're playing chicken, trying to kill the business.
     
  36. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (3,180) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania
    Society

    That is an outrageous way to invoke the Holocaust. Just disgusting. Corporate Starbucks shares their blanket with others? Google CEO Kevin Johnson's compensation including a 2019 "retention bonus" of up to $50 million. Fuck off.
     
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  37. DIM

    DIM Poo-Bah (3,180) Sep 28, 2006 Pennsylvania
    Society

    It's offensive because he's using outrageous hyperbole for the purposes of emotional manipulation. Starbucks apparently does compensate their employees better the most national chains. Good for them, they should shout that from the rooftops.

    The story he told though, was one of equally sharing scarce resources during a terrifying and ultimately deadly ordeal. Using this story to glorify their corporate philosophy is gross. Starbucks does not, and of course should not, share their resources equally.
     
  38. AMessenger

    AMessenger Initiate (29) Mar 17, 2018 Pennsylvania

    I don’t understand half of what you said here or what, if any of it, is sarcasm. Is your point that these unions would negotiate in a way that wouldn’t drive the Taproom out of business (if it truly is on thin ice)?
     
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  39. SFACRKnight

    SFACRKnight Poo-Bah (1,905) Jan 20, 2012 Colorado
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    I'm not answering for @jesskidden but it is a commonly recognized union breaking tool corporations have used for decades. If the taproom employees organize, the corporation simply closes the doors and opens a new location across the street. McDonald's has used this in the past as well. It's not saying that corporate can't afford the increased wages, corporate is literally saying "if you unionize we will close this shit down rather than pay you what workers are asking".
     
  40. BBThunderbolt

    BBThunderbolt Poo-Bah (9,093) Sep 24, 2007 Kiribati
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    Or, closes, and reopens "under new ownership", often a family member or silent partner.