"(In March, 1886) a brewery workers' organization was formed in Newark. The condition of the brewery workers here was a particularly bad one. On weekdays the daily work often amounted to from fifteen to eighteen hours, and to this was added frequently Sunday labor of about ten hours, so that the brewers hardly ever had an hour to themselves. Besides this, the monthly wage of the skilled brewers was only $40 per month and that of the unskilled hands correspondingly less.

    "In Newark as in New York the organization of the brewery workers was taken in hand by the Knights of Labor. First they organized the employees of the Geier Brewery, which is now known as the Home Brewery, into the "Enterprise Assembly" of the Order, and on March 21, 1886, a general meeting of the brewery workers of Newark was called and Brewers' Union No. 2 was formed, which is still in existence."

Herman Schulter - 1910 - The Int. Union United Brewery Workmen  of America



[BELOW] Detail from Prohibition era ad for a Ballantine brand of Malt Syrup

Ballantine keg labels
with "AFL Brewery Workers" labels.

Breweries where BREWERS UNION
No. 2  officials/members worked

GEORGE RAUB - Ballantine - "Syrup"

ALBERT HIES - Feigenspan

CHAS. KASSENBERG - Ballantine kettleman Feigenspan



FRANK NEHER - Union Brewing Co.

FRANK RAUSCH - Orange Brewing Co.

OTTO RUHNKE, Jr - Orange Brewing Co.







1953 post-Strike ad

Timeline of Ballantine & Newark area Brewery Union Activity

  1881 - June NYC metro area strike ("...most of the breweries in New York City, Staten Island, Newark, Jersey City, etc." *). 1000's are out over 50¢ an hour pay on Sunday. * The New Brunswick (NJ) Times also claims the strikers want a 12 hour day and no work on Sunday.

120 strikers in Newark. Krueger and Hauck not affected by strike - ",,,employees there are satisfied with their wages and hours of labor" (NYT).  

June 9 - "Word was received during the afternoon from Ballantine & Co., the largest brewers in Newark, NJ, that eight of their men had returned to work on the brewers' conditions, and that five other men had asked to be allowed to return, but had been refused because they were the chief agitators of the strike."

1887 - Feb. - Knights of Labor Assembly 49 strike. 

1888 April 17 NYC metro area strike.  Newark strike headquarters at 323 Market St.

P. Ballantine & Sons announces they will not interfere with the employees who join the union.

1890 Newark's Brewers Union No. 2 withdrawals from the National Brewery Workmen for 4 weeks - reason unknown.

1891 Brewers Union No. 2 charges the local Socialist Party of Newark of scheduling their Labor Day picnic in a park where only "scab beer" is sold.

1893 Newark's Citizens Brewing Co. signs annual contract with Brewers Union No. 2.

Joint BU No. 2/Socialist Section of Newark Labor Day Picnic - Oertel's Phoenix Park.

Union meetings are held at Pollock Hall, 43 Prince St, share with the Laborers and the Anarchists.

1894  John Lutz elected Corresponding Secretary of Brewers Union No. 2

1895 Brewers Union No. 2 announces it will not initiate any new members until all current union member are employed.

1898 Hensler workers object to Brewery Workmen boycott of Hensler Beer as non-union "Pool Beer".


1901 -Other local breweries with contracts with Brewers Union No. 2 include Krueger, Lyon, Hensler, Peter Hauck (Harrison) and Rock Spring (Highland Park).

1904  Newark Brewery Workmen Bottlers' Local #268 chartered. 

Newark Brewery Workmen Stationary Engineers and Firemen Local #209 switches affiliation to the International Union of Steam And Operating Engineers, Local Union No. 68 of Essex County, according to a jurisdictional agreement between the 2 international unions and the AFL.

1906 - Newark brewery locals claim a loss of 40 jobs with the enactment of the "Bishops Law" which closes saloons on Sunday.

1908 -NJ State Federation of Labor endorses the Brewery Workmen union label and union wagon sign.  Beer Drivers Union No. 148's Secretary Adam Zusi elected to State AFL's Executive Committee.

At the time of the Annual Convention of the Brewery Workmen, membership in Newark's 3 Brewery Workmen locals totals about 1,100 - 460 in Brewers Union No. 2, 450 in Beer Drivers No. 148 and 180 in Beer Bottlers No. 268.  This was approximately 2.5% of the total membership of 45,233.

1909 - Strike by Ballantine teamsters at the NYC Depot.

Essex Trades Council and the Carriage Workers No. 151  announce a boycott of the Hensler Brewing Co. for using non-union shops for their wagon work.


1911    Brewers Union No.2 - 25th  Anniversary. President of local is Otto Ruhnke (who would also run for Essex County Assembly on the Socialist Party line the next year).  At the time Local 2 had 500 members "...about 60% of the members are Socialists, holders of the red card." (New York Call).

Local 2 and other NJ BW locals call for boycott of Anheuser-Busch beer, over their refusal to use the Brewery Workmen Union Label.

Strike at Ballantine brewery/ies.  MA area boycott, called off when CLU received work that both ale and lager breweries had been unionized.

Brewers' Union No. 2 sponsors a speech by Socialist US Congressman Victor Berger.  Berger will give the speech in both English and German.  Many Brewery Workers publications would also be printed in both languages, due to the overwhelming number of brewery workers of German heritage.

1914 Brewers Union No. 2 introduces a resolution calling for “Government seizure of the packing houses, grainaries, food warehouses and similar plants…” in order to safeguard the people of this country against “threatened starvation” at State AFL Convention.  

William Umstadter of Beer Bottlers Union Local 268 nominated to attend national AFL Convention.

1916 Jurisdictional dispute at Ballantine between the Brewery Workmen and the Machinists.

Joseph Mang, former secretary of Brewers Union No. 2 arrested in Covina, CA for embezzling $1500 of union funds.

1917  - International changes its name to International Union of United Brewery and Soft Drink Workers of America.

Aug. 20 Newark brewery workers walk out.

19 45,000 member Essex Trades Council adopts "No Beer, No Work" slogan, with unions with over
180,000 members of NYC's Central Federated Trades Council backing it.


1920 1,200 NJ Brewery Workers walk out of breweries in Newark, Elizabeth, Paterson, Harrison and Jersey City for higher wages.  A brewery owner is quoted as saying they could not raise their pay since "because of prohibition there are no profits".


- October 30 - The 3
Newark locals of the Brewery Workers are among the first marchers in the now famous (thanks to the frequently printed image - below left)
WE WANT BEER Anti-Prohibition march in Newark.


1933 - "Large Newark Brewery Is Closed by Strike; Key Workers Refuse to Accept 15% Pay Cut"NEW YORK TIMES - .April 9, 1933, NEWARK, N.J. Considered to be the "First brewery strike since beer legalization."

1941 - After decades of jurisdictional conflict with the Teamsters and other "craft" unions, the AFL expels the "industrially-organized" International Union of United Brewery, Flour, Cereal and Soft Drink Workers of America.

1942 - Newark locals # 148 (Beer Drivers and Stablemen's Union) and  #268 (Beer Bottlers Union) vote to leave the United Brewery & Soft Drink Workers of America (at the time an Independent union after being expelled from the AFL) and join the AFL International Brotherhood of Teamsters, forming Locals #153 and #843, respectively, with the same union officers.

1944 - Brewers Union #2 and Brewery Workers #148 are both among the local unions supporting the Minneapolis Smith Act prisoners.

WWII strike of Local 843 (Drivers and Bottlers) affects Ballantine - then essentially running two breweries with the addition of Feigenspan - and 5 other North Jersey breweries.  When brewers complain to the press that the strike is holding up their deliveries to the armed forces, strikers volunteer to work without pay to bottle and deliver the beer to military bases.

1946 – United Brewery Workers vote to join the CIO.

Layoff of 600 workers due to Federal grain rationing.

April 22 Strike, 900 members of  Beer Bottlers and Beer Drivers Union.  John J.Quillin, president, AFL local 843

1947 - April 1, Newark brewery workers' AFL locals #153 and #843 call off threat to strike 7 NJ breweries unless the CIO Brewery Workers Local #2 leaves their union for the AFL.

Brewery Workers Local #2 membership votes to leave the CIO Brewery Workers Union and joins the AFL as the directly-affiliated "Brewery Workers" Federal Labor Union #24251. 

1948 - Oct. 20 "Wildcat" NYC brewery strike- Ballantine AFL drivers refuse to cross CIO strikers’ line at George Washington Bridge.

1949 -  April 1 - June 20. Infamous NYC Strike of 7000 United Brewery Workers from 7 locals, working at 14 NY breweries.

Despite the jurisdictional "war" between the AFL Teamsters and the CIO Brewery Workers in the NY-NJ metro region, IBT "Bottle Beer Drivers and Warehousemen" Local 843 President and Business Agent Joseph Quillin recommends that his members "assess themselves" in order to support the CIO NYC strikers.

CIO Brewery Workers allow AFL-brewed beer from NJ to be delivered to NYC.  Ballantine alone ships 8000 bbl. a day when normal deliveries from all NJ brewers is usually 3000 bbl.  Other outside brewers, notably Blatz, shipped beer into the city during the strike.

The New York Times (June 17, 1949) noted:

"The one company that has benefited the most in sales to the tavern trade and probably will maintain its position – without offering any price advantages – is P. Ballantine & Sons."

During the NYC strike of CIO Brewery Workers, Ballantine closes their New York State depots in Hicksville and White Plains, which had CIO contracts.

1951 – CIO Brewery Workers Local 2 certified by the NLRB as exclusive bargaining agent for brewing department after election pitting it against FLU #24251 at the not yet fully-operational Anheuser-Busch Newark brewery.  IBT Locals #148 and 843 attempt to gain bargaining rights for "not-yet-hired employees" in other departments.

1953 – Last CIO Brewery Workers local in Newark, Brewers Union #2 votes to leave for AFL, creating Teamster Local 102, representing Anheuser-Busch workers. 

NLRB certifies the AFL Teamster joint board locals as sole bargaining units for P. Ballantine & Sons workers,  along with workers at Newark's Pabst/Hoffman, Krueger, Hensler, and Liebmann (Rheingold) in Orange during Teamsters' "Operation Newark".  More than half of the eligible voters were Ballantine workers - 2,504 out of 4,207.

The Teamsters charter AFL FLU "Brewery Workers" #24251 as IBT Local #4.

May - first week of June, strike. AFL 6000 workers in Newark, over back wages.

1958 - Office Employees' International Union fails in attempt to organize Newark and New York City Ballantine sales offices' workers.

1959 - Local 102 wins organizing drive for Anheuser-Busch Newark office workers.

1962 - Workers at both Ballantine and Anheuser-Busch petition the NLRB to eliminate joint bargaining between the 4 brewers and the IBT Brewery Workers Joint Board (still only Locals 4, 148 and 843) over seniority concerns.

August - Strike of Local 68 Stationary Engineers at Pabst and Liebmann spreads to Ballantine and Anheuser-Busch.  Teamster brewery locals do not honor picket lines and breweries remain operational.

1967 - Two day Strike at Ballantine - June 26-28.

Local 102 wins organizing drive for Rheingold - Orange office workers.

1969 - January 7 strike by 900 members of Local 843 at Ballantine over lost jobs due to automation.

1972 - NJ Governor Cahill calls for FTC investigation of purchase of P. Ballantine and Sons labels by Falstaff, and the announced closing of the brewery.   Judge refuses to investigate, but prohibits firings until union negotiations end.

Last day March 31, Friday- brief sit-in by employees. 

600 to be re-hired by Falstaff which would set up a distribution depot in North Bergen for Ballantine and other Falstaff brands.

1973 - A year and a half after the closing of P. Ballantine & Sons, after more than half a century of conflict, the Brewery Workers Union merged into the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.