Teamsters Celebrate PRIDE: A Look Back at the Coors Boycott & Strike of the 1970’s

The Coors Boycott and Strike of the 1970’s stands as a critical moment in both the Labor, and LGBTQIA+ Movement in the United States. This historic moment brought together the struggles of workers, equality, and the power of the Teamsters union, making it an essential chapter in the history of the Teamsters.  

“As a queer-identifying man, I am proud to be a member of a union that has a history of standing up and fighting for its LGBTQIA+ membership for over 50 years; especially today when anti-LGBTQIA+ rhetoric and policies are on the rise again.”

Corey Hallman, Teamsters Local 856 Union Representative

In 1973, the Teamsters took on Coors beer distributors in San Francisco, forming a powerful alliance with the LGBTQ+ community. This partnership, led by influential Teamster leaders like Allan Baird and Howard Wallace, the first openly gay Teamster driver, showcased the importance of unity and reshaped the fight for equal rights. 

Teamsters Local 888, representing beer delivery drivers, faced issues such as low wages, union-busting, and employment discrimination. Coors Brewing Company’s distributors were well-known in the area for their unfair labor practices and homophobic policies. In response, the Teamsters initiated a strike and boycott of Coors beer, gaining support from the LGBTQIA+ community, with eventual coalitions with Black, Latinx, and Native American community groups to challenge Coors’ discriminatory practices. 

Organizers like Allan Baird played a vital role in connecting different activist circles. Baird, alongside figures like Harvey Milk, Cleve Jones, and Howard Wallace, formed partnerships and rallied support from the LGBTQIA+ community. Through meetings, protests, and engagement in local gay bars, the coalition grew stronger, spreading their message and advancing their cause.

The Teamsters’ alliance with the LGBTQIA+ community during the Coors boycott is a powerful example of unity and solidarity. By joining forces, these diverse groups fought against discrimination, conservative politics, and unfair labor practices. The boycott’s success brought about significant changes and continues to inspire new generations to this day.