Last Call: Anchor Workers Vote to Unionize; Texas Beer Distributor Opposes To-Go Sales

Seeking better pay and benefits, workers at San Francisco’s Anchor Brewing Company voted in favor of forming a union on Wednesday, according to Bloomberg.

The vote to organize with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union passed 31-16, the San Francisco Chronicle reported. Anchor, which was acquired by Japan’s Sapporo Holdings Limited in 2017, now has 10 days to dispute the vote.

The effort to unionize has been met with multiple “union-busting” tactics from Anchor management, despite a February 14 pledge to remain neutral. According to Huffpost, management “pressured the 61 brewery workers and nine staffers at Public Taps,” its neighboring taproom, to form separate bargaining units. Public Taps employees are slated to vote on whether to form a union later today, according to the AnchorUnionSF Twitter account.

Additionally, Anchor management reportedly intimidated employees during private meetings and threatened years-long wage freezes. In turn, employees filed an unfair labor practice complaint with the National Labor Relations Board earlier this month alleging management deployed union-busting tactics, including ordering employees to remove pro-union pins while on the job, Bloomberg reported. Read more on Huffpost.

Instacart Offers Alcohol Delivery Service to 40 Million U.S. Households

E-commerce grocery delivery service Instacart has expanded its alcohol delivery to 14 states and Washington, D.C.

According to a press release, Instacart began rolling out the service on a limited basis last year, and it’s now available to about 40 million U.S. households across California, Connecticut, Florida, Illinois, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Minnesota, Missouri, North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon, Texas, Virginia, Washington, and Washington, D.C. Additional states — including Michigan and Nebraska — will be added in the coming months. Instacart’s retail partners includes grocery chains Albertsons, Kroger, Publix, Schnucks and Stater Bros. Markets, as well as BevMo, Binny’s Beverage Depot and Total Wine.

106 Outstanding Projects in the DME Queue

When Canadian brewing equipment manufacturer Diversified Metal Engineering (DME) fell into receivership last November, the company had 106 outstanding projects, according to Marc DeJong, managing director of recently resurrected DME Process Systems Ltd.

CIMC Enric Tank & Process B.V., a Netherlands subsidiary of CIMC ENRIC Holdings in China, closed on a deal for the financially troubled Charlottetown business earlier this month and resumed operations with 61 former employees.

DeJong told Brewbound that the company is “working on a project by project basis with the individual clients” for those unfulfilled orders. In some cases, he said beer companies would need to pay extra for projects that they’ve already made deposits of hundreds of thousands of dollars.

Asked what safeguard DME Process Systems has put in place to prevent a similar collapse, De Jong said CIMC provides the company “a solid financial base.”

“If required, future customers will be provided financial security through various security mechanisms such as bank guarantees and escrow agreements,” he added.

Tennessee MillerCoors Wholesalers Consolidate

Two MillerCoors wholesalers are consolidating operations in Memphis. Ajax Distributing Company of Memphis closed on the acquisition of BarDett Distributing (A.S. Barboro) on March 8.

Ajax vice president of operations Paul Turner told Brewbound that the deal doubles Ajax’s beer volume. There is also considerable overlap between the two companies’ beer portfolios. Both sell offerings from MillerCoors, Heineken, Pabst, Boston Beer, Diageo, Mark Anthony Brands, and Lagunitas, among others.

Wholesaler Group Opposes Texas To-Go Sales Bills

In an Austin American-Statesman op-ed titled “State beer sales laws aren’t broken. Leave them alone,” Larry Del Papa, a wealthy beer distributor, argued that allowing Texas’ manufacturing breweries to sell beer for off-premise consumption would harm independently owned grocery, convenience and liquor stores.

Del Papa serves as the president of the Wholesale Beer Distributors of Texas (WBDT), a powerful wholesaler lobbying group that has refused to sign onto a “stakeholder agreement” reached between the Texas Craft Brewers Guild and the Beer Alliance of Texas. If passed by lawmakers, that agreement would put an end to a years-long contentious dispute over to-go-beer sales by allowing manufacturing breweries to sell beer for off-premise consumption within the state’s existing 5,000-barrel cap on direct-to-consumer sales.

According to Del Papa, only 10 craft breweries would benefit from the legislation. The rest of the state’s 305 other breweries, Del Papa argued, could operate under brewpub licenses due to falling below the 10,000-barrel cap.

“The regulatory system for beer in Texas is not broken or antiquated,” he wrote. “There is no justifiable need to further amend state law.”

However, Austin Beerworks co-owner Adam DeBower told Brewbound that the law change would benefit hundreds of brewers, fostering growth that could expand those companies’ production beyond the 10,000-barrel cap.

Utah Lawmakers Agree on Stronger Beer Bill

In the final hours of Utah’s 2019 legislative session Thursday, lawmakers reached a compromise to revive and pass a bill to allow grocery and convenience stores to sell stronger beer, The Salt Lake Tribune reported. Both the Senate and the House signed off on legislation that would increase the state’s alcohol-by-weight (ABW) cap from 3.2 percent (4 percent ABV) to 4 percent (5 percent ABV). Previous attempts to raise the cap were focused on 4.8 percent ABW (6 percent ABV), which the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints opposed. Utah Gary Herbert has signaled that he will sign the bill, which would make the new law effective November 1.

Brewery Health Care Bill Passes Committee in Connecticut

Connecticut’s Insurance and Retail Estate Committee voted 16-3 Thursday in favor of House Bill 7260, which would allow the Connecticut Brewers Guild to offer health care benefits for the state’s small and mid-sized craft breweries. The legislation now advances to the House.

“If this legislation is passed by the General Assembly and signed into law, breweries and their employees will be able to gain access to affordable health care regardless of their size,” guild executive director Phil Pappas said, via a press release.

According to the guild, Connecticut craft breweries employ about 5,000 workers statewide.

Braxton Named Official Craft Beer, Hard Seltzer of FC Cincinnati

Kentucky’s Braxton Brewing Co. and its spinoff Vive Hard Seltzer brand were named the official craft beer and hard seltzer of the FC Cincinnati soccer club. Braxton beer will be served on draft, while Vive will be available in cans during Sunday’s home opener at Nippert Stadium.

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