Organizing lessons from the Anchor Brewing campaign

Anchor workers voted overwhelmingly to ratify their first union contract on December 20. With their victory secure, workers at the first craft brewery in America can share some of the factors behind their organizing victory.

  • They were patient
    Early union supporters took their time and resisted the urge to “go public” before securing support from a strong majority of their co-workers. The process was slow, systematic and effective. They talked with every worker. Conversations were the key to building strong support. That meant listening to what people were thinking and concerned about – not lecturing or preaching about the union.
  • They built a strong committee
    The strong union committee inside Anchor didn’t just happen, it was built on a foundation of conversations. Those talks resulted in identifying supporters and encouraging them to join the committee.
  • New leaders were encouraged
    The conversations helped identify natural leaders who had followers. Finding and encouraging these respected workers made the organizing committee strong and representative.
  • Support was tested and verified
    Supporters were asked to show their support in small but important ways – such as coming to a meeting, signing a petition, wearing a button or displaying a poster at a bar.
  • Public support was organized
    Besides building support inside the plant, workers realized they also needed friends and leverage on the outside. They targeted customers and bartenders at local bars where Anchor products were served.
  • Political support was enlisted
    Outreach to local elected officials began early in the campaign. County Supervisor Shamann Walton and other officials encouraged Anchor management to be respectful of workers and the union.
  • They got help from allies
    The public outreach campaign required lots of volunteers who were invited to help from the ILWU, International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, San Francisco Labor Council and Democratic Socialists of America which played an essential role before and during the campaign.
  • They contacted co-workers abroad
    Anchor is owned by Sapporo, with union workers at plants in Japan and Canada. The Anchor committee communicated with leaders in those unions to secure support and solidarity.