Anchor brewery workers want to save their company by buying it out

Union workers at Anchor Brewing Company, the oldest craft brewery in the United States, want to buy the 127-year-old company and run it as a cooperative to save it from closing, a union official said.

The company said last week that economic pressures, including the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, left it “with no choice but to make this sad decision to cease operations.” But the employees, who received 60 days’ notice and promised severance packages, suggested a way to keep the beer flowing.

The workers have decided to “launch an effort to purchase the brewery and operate it as a workers’ co-op,” according to a proposal letter from Anchor employees. Pedro de Sá, a business agent with the International Longshore and Warehouse Union Local 6, whose members include Anchor workers, sent the proposal on Wednesday to Mike Minami, president of Sapporo USA, which owns the company.

“All we want is a fair chance to be able to continue to do our jobs, make the beer we love, and keep this historic institution open,” the letter read. “We don’t want to sell the brewery and the brand we love before we even have the chance.”

Wednesday, Union anchor workers posted a link In a VinePair post on Twitter: “Time to test everyone’s love for this brand. Let’s work on this together and give back what we almost lost.”

Sam Singer, a spokesman for Anchor, did not comment on the proposal Thursday, but said about two dozen investors and individuals have expressed interest in acquiring the assets of Anchor Brewing Co.

“It’s encouraging to see so many people stepping forward to continue the tradition of this famous San Francisco beer and company,” said Mr. Singer. “We remain hopeful that Anchor will be purchased and carried on in the future, but it will be in the hands of the liquidator to make that decision and depend on what potential buyers offer.”

Japanese beer giant Sapporo acquired The company, which was founded in 1896, in 2017 with about $85 million. In 2019, anchor workers voted to unionize, a description Inappropriate wages and unfair working conditions.

Mr. de Sa said in an interview Thursday that he met 39 workers who are union members and make up about two-thirds of the brewery’s workforce. At a meeting at the plant on Wednesday, employees agreed to set up a committee to look into regulations and pursue further steps to contest ownership.

“There was an agreement to form the cooperation and try to follow up on his purchase from Sapporo, and we informed the company on the same day,” Mr. De Sa said. “We hope the company will give the workers a fair chance.”

But the start of the company’s liquidation process on August 2 loomed large.

“The timeline is very short,” said Mr. De Sa. “As far as we know, the company will be sold for spare parts, and we want enough time to enter into a serious bid.”

When the closure was announced on July 12, ILWU Local 6 described As a “tragic consequence” of a large corporation taking over a local establishment from a base across the Pacific and “failing to understand how to market, sell and distribute a great product that has been beloved for generations”.

Anchor has stopped brewing but has said it will continue to sell beer Until sold out or until the end of July, whichever comes first. General anchor taps He will sell the remaining inventory.

After word of the impending closure spread, fans lined up outside the tap room to buy T-shirts and containers of beer and to help drain the remaining stock, The Associated Press reported. In the Bay Area, NBC News reported this week that other investors have Express interest In saving the brewery.

For Sapporo, Anchor Steam was “just another budget item,” the union said at the time, but workers and the city of San Francisco are “suffering the consequences.”