Right before the holidays, Anchor Brewing Co. employees gave themselves the gift of a workers’ union contract, according to Members of the International Longshore and Warehouse Union, Local 6.
The 62 workers at Anchor Brewing Company in the notoriously expensive San Francisco voted (49-3) to ratify a three-year contract negotiated jointly with Anchor Brewing, owned by Sapporo Holdings. Anchor was purchased by Sapporo in 2017, and employees at the Sapporo’s breweries in Japan and Canada have been represented by unions for many years. San Francisco’s legendary brewery now joins that list.
“This is an important chapter in the history of the ILWU and in the history of one of the most storied and beloved beers in America,” said ILWU International Vice President Bobby Olvera Jr. “We believe that being a union-made beer is a selling point for Anchor. When people drink Anchor, they’ll be supporting fair wages and benefits for the workers who make and serve this outstanding and unique product.”
Keys of the Anchor union contract
- Substantial compensation increases for employees over the next 3 years. Increase amounts vary based on seniority and position, but in the first year of the contract, on average, workers represented by ILWU Local 6 will receive an approximate 8% increase in wages and benefits.
- Time and a half pay for all employees who work on a company recognized holiday.
- Maintenance of quality health insurance, with Anchor paying 85 percent of the premium for employees and 50 percent for dependents.
- Enhanced 401(k) with additional employer contributions tied to brewery production to promote shared interest.
- Paid 1/2 hour lunch periods instead of unpaid lunch breaks, which are the industry norm.
- Paid Time Off now extended to part-time workers, formerly only full timers qualified.
- Pay for a portion of any sick time that employees accrue beyond their cap on hours for both full- and part-time employees.
More on the wage increases
As an example of the wage increases afforded to employees under the new contract, junior workers in the Brewery will receive an immediate increase from $16.50 per hour to $18.50 per hour as of January 1, 2020. By the end of the third year of the contract, they will be earning a little over $21 an hour. The minimum wage for San Francisco is $15.59 an hour (California does not have a lower minimum wage for tipped employees).
At Public Taps, the majority of the bartenders and bar backs will receive an immediate increase from $15.60 an hour to $18.25 an hour as of January 1, 2020, and by the end of the contract they will be making an average of nearly $20 an hour.
“We look forward to a strong future together with the newly formed union,” said Scott Ungermann, Brewmaster for Anchor Brewing Company. “Anchor has a storied history and enduring commitment to making great beers and valuing the people who brew them.”
ILWU Local 6, based in Oakland, represents a broad spectrum of workers at companies including Guittard Chocolate, Heath Ceramics, and Gallo wine distribution, so organizing the brewery was a natural fit. Anchor Brewery and Public Taps workers voted to join the ILWU in March 2019.
Further reading: What brewery owners need to know about unions
In February last year, we published “Is craft beer culture a recipe for unionization? What brewery owners need to know” from Micah Dawson is an associate at Denver-based Fisher Phillips.
Read it all here. Here is an excerpt from the “What should craft brewing employers do?” section:
Understand employee rights. Employers in the craft brewing industry need to understand their potential obligations under the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) and the employees’ potential right to join unions. Employers should focus on ensuring that their policies and procedures are in line with the requirements of the NLRA, regardless of their position on unions and not ignore the potential exposure of infringing on employees’ rights.
Understand how quickly it can happen. Don’t wait — prepare. Employers need to understand how quickly unionization can happen. Under the “quickie election rule,” the National Labor Relations Board has significantly shortened the pre-election time to as little as 10 to 14 days (historically this was 40 to 45 days). Many employers, including those in the craft brewing industry, are understandably concerned that this shortened pre-election time will present significant challenges in their ability to communicate with their employees when unions seek to organize them.
In the face of these issues, the training of management on their responsibilities and limits, along with clear communication to employees, stands as the best preparation for any of these issues. Training, training, training must be the first step.