Beer Billionaire Yuengling Blasted for Right-to-Work Support


November 22, 2013

Dick Yuengling, president of the nation’s oldest brewery, has rarely kept his contempt for unions under wraps.  In 2006, he supported a move by workers in his Pottsville, Pa., brewery to decertify their Teamsters bargaining unit.


 If that wasn’t enough, Yuengling, who has threatened to shut down and move his brewing operations if corporate taxes are not lowered,  is now using his money and influence to lobby Gov. Tom Corbett to support the passage of a right-to-work law in the state legislature.

On Nov. 9, 400 union members and supporters rallied one block from Yuengling Brewing Co. in Pottsville to call attention to the damage that would be done to the state’s economy if right-to-work legislation is passed. They then marched to the Schuykill County Courthouse. The protest was widely covered in the local news media.

“We are not going to apologize for making a decent wage, having health care and a pension, much like many of our legislators have,“ Scott Heitzman, business manager of Shamokin Local 607, told  Heitzman helped organize the rally as part of the Schuylkill County Building and Construction Trades. Fifteen Local 607 members were in attendance.

After chanting, “Organize, don’t fool around, Pottsville is a union town,” and “Union town, through and through, you for me and me for you,” participants listened to speakers including union leaders and elected representatives, reported the Republican Herald.

“We can’t afford [right-to-work] in Pennsylvania,” Edward Pawlowski, mayor of Allentown, told those assembled. “Small businesses in the commonwealth depend on the dollars spent by those who make good, family-sustaining wages. Without these wages,  that money could be dragged out of our communities. It could kill our local economies. It’s a morally bankrupt position.”

Focusing on Dick Yuengling as a symbol of corporate greed, Heitzman says that workers in Pottsville are angry that he is outspoken in wanting to undermine the rights of the very people who built his family’s wealth.  “All the family’s money was made selling beer to coal miners and other union members.” Heitzman told  

If Yuengling’s worth, said to be more than $1 billion, was laid out end-to-end in $100 bills, says Heitzman, it would spread over 1,250 miles.  “How many more miles does he need?” he asks.

With many of his local union members out of work, Heitzman says it’s important to oppose dead-end solutions like right-to-work to revive the state and the nation’s economy.  Local 607 is promoting the skills and safety of its members. Those attributes would be in jeopardy if Yuengling and others succeed in silencing and weakening unions with right-to-work, said Tim Seip, a former state rep. who attended the rally.

“It’s going to make our workplaces less safe, less efficient and less competitive with overseas jobs,” said Seip



Photo credit: Commonwealth Citizens Against Yuengling