[Bonus pod] How the Twin Cities became a hotbed for craft beverage unionizing

Plus: "horny for Disarrono," foul hard seltzer flavors, Boozeletter™ traffic trends + more!

  
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Happy Friday, Fingers friends! Today I’m proud to present an audio read of the Fingers newsletter published on Labor Day, 9/6/21, “How the Twin Cities became a hotbed for craft beverage unionizing.”1 If you missed this story the first time around (no judgment; Monday was a holiday, after all) I hope you’ll check it out now. You can listen above, or read via the link below. There’s a really exciting labor movement happening in Minneapolis/St. Paul craft breweries and distilleries, and I was glad to be able to spotlight it.

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How the Twin Cities became a hotbed for craft beverage unionizing
Editor’s note: For more original reporting on the booze business, labor, and beyond, please subscribe to Fingers for free now: Thanks for supporting independent journalism. Happy Labor Day from Fingers HQ.—Dave…
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Remember to subscribe to The Fingers Podcast on AppleSpotify, or wherever you get your podcasts so you don’t miss new episodes as I publish them. All previous episodes can be found on those platforms, or in The Fingers Podcast archive.

A note on the episode: I relied on sources on the ground in the Twin Cities to report this story, but I wasn’t able to figure out how to splice the audio from my interviews into the podcast episode. So you’ll hear me reading my sources’ quotes. I tried to make it very clear when it was a worker talking, rather than me writing, but if you’re confused at all, I recommend referencing the original piece. I’ll work on a better solution for future episodes, promise! Anyway, if you listen to this episode and have feedback for me, by all means let me know in the comments:

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This Labor Day story went wide on social media (more on that below) because many Friends of Fingers shared it with their followers. Thanks so much to everyone who did that—I appreciate the hell outta ya.


📬 Good post alert

Luv 2 b horny for designer amaretto with all my hot friends from the Aughts!

Semi-related: Molly recently interviewed me for an upcoming multimedia zine she’s producing called “Party Rock Vol. 1.” We talked about Four Loko, Sparks, and lots of other stuff, too. I can’t wait to see the finished product, but in the meantime, here’s a teaser video featuring your fearless Fingers editor.


🔝 This week’s top comment

Inspired (?) by the release of Bud Light Seltzer’s Fall Flannel variety pack, I asked Fingers readers to tell me about the worst hard seltzer they’d ever tasted for this week’s comment thread. In a shock to no one (or at least, not me) there are a lot of terrible hard seltzers out there!

Of all your graphic tales of malt-based woe, I found Samer Khudairi’s report from the front lines of foul FMBs to be the most detailed/distressing (emphasis mine):

The worst hard seltzer I had was actually a THC infused seltzer. Tasted so chalky. Pretty expensive ~$8/12oz can and I don't think the 5mg hit me in fluid form as it usually does as an edible.

The second worst was the Blue Raspberry Warheads Artisinal Hard Seltzer. It poured a dirty coolant blue and tasted like something you shouldn't ingest. Mixed 4pk for $14 and the other flavors were more tolerable.

Overpriced, under-filtered weed seltzer? Candy-flavored solvents of dubious potability? Harrowing stuff. Thank you for your hard seltzer service, Samer.


📈 Ye olde boozeletter smashes traffic records

Like I mentioned above, Monday’s feature on craft beverage workers organizing unions in the Twin Cities was very popular, particularly on social media. Substack (the platform I use to send Fingers to your inbox) shows me how much web traffic the site receives, and basically immediately after publishing this piece, a shitload of people began visiting the page. Here, look:

It doesn’t take a media brain genius to see that the story performed really well, which is for the best because media brain geniuses are all grifters anyway.2 But the reason it performed well is because Friends of Fingers and other internet users, presumably feeling particularly labor-friendly on Labor Day, boosted the story hard on social media, helping it spread a lot farther than the email list alone could take it. I even got a retweet from Sara Nelson, the prominent, outspoken international president of the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, AFL-CIO.

In other exciting news, Fingers’ original reporting will also be republished by two Minnesota outlets: Racket3, a new, writer-owned collective borne from the ashes of the Twin Cities’ unceremoniously shuttered City Pages alt-weekly; and Workday Minnesota, a union-funded publication that has covered labor issues in the state since 2000. This introduces Fingers to new audiences, and helps carry Minnesota craft beverage workers’ story in their home state.

This is all extremely tight, and it can’t happen without your support. Thanks always for reading Fingers. I’m so proud of this community we’re building here, and looking forward to telling more stories like this in the future.


🧾 The bottom shelf

  • Starbucks Is Blatantly Trying to Crush Its Union: Starbucks workers in Buffalo, NY, are organizing, and the coffee Giant is throwing the union-busting playbook at them. Seattle execs in “expensive suits” have “swarmed local stores, pulling aside workers to chat one-on-one during their breaks, at peak hours, at night, and even on Labor Day weekend, helping baristas make coffee, clean up, and take out the trash.” Sounds very normal and not at all like coercion!

  • BrewDog agrees to tie-up with Japan’s Asahi to boost sales (paywall): Fresh off a summer of workplace and marketplace scandals, the Scottish craft brewer announced a new joint-venture with Asahi that it hopes will goose its Japanese sales by 600% over five years. Cofounder James Watt says the company is still headed for an IPO; I say best of luck to all the “equity punks” that have bought shares in the company over the past decade-plus. One last thing: as a Twitter follower pointed out, BrewDog’s 6x-in-5-years Japanese sales target may sound like a lot, but not if current sales are small:

  • This Is What A Craft Brewing Union Contract Looks Like: Speaking of craft beverage labor organizing, workers at Fair State Brewing Cooperative recently ratified their first collective bargaining agreement with management. In keeping with their commitment to help their colleagues in the industry get educated about how unions work and what they can do, they’ve posted their contract online for all to see.

  • The Incredible American Rise of Modelo Especial: I read VinePair colleague Tim McKirdy’s deep-dive on dominant Mexican import while I was on vacation, but forgot to tell you all about it. Sorry! Especial is going gangbusters in the U.S. these days, trailing only Bud Light in dollar sales and spanking other imports like Heineken and Corona Extra. Read Tim’s smart story for the how and why.

1

Music credit: The intro/outro music to this episode of The Fingers Podcast is SKA Podcast / YouTube / Channel Intro by NaturesEye, sourced via Pixabay.

2

I’d be remiss if I didn’t take this mention of media grifters to point you to Shingy, a “digital futurist” who milked a six-figure salary from AOL and then Verizon for a dozen years before the jig was finally up. Highly recommend Andrew Marantz’s brief 2014 New Yorker item on our man. David Shing, ladies and gentlemen. One of the best to ever do it. Salute to the grift god.

3

For more on Racket, check out Welcome to Hell World’s August 2021 interview with Em Cassel, an editor and co-owner of the project.