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Brief Biographical / Historical Sketch


The International Union of United Brewery Workmen (UBW) held its Founding Convention in Baltimore, Maryland on August 29, 1886. On September 4, 1887, one week prior to the organization's Second International Convention, fifty-two beer brewers and malters' helpers gathered in Rubels Hall, Smithfield Street, Pittsburgh, to found a Brewery Workers local for Pittsburgh and Allegheny City. Starting with the October 30, 1887 meeting, the designation "No. 22" appears. The nomenclature for the union varied from one early meeting to the next, but "Brewery Workers Union Local 22" eventually came into greatest currency.

Brewing was par excellence a German art, and the Pittsburgh brewery workers, employed by such companies as Keystone, Eberhart and Ober, and Iron City Brewing Company were predominantly German-born or of German descent. The minutes of the Local during the early years were kept in German, and the meetings were undoubtedly conducted in that language. In fact, the UBW as a whole remained a bilingual organization until World War II.

A unique feature of the Brewers Union was its commitment to the principle of industrial unionism, made at the Second Convention of the International Union in Detroit in 1887. This meant that the Brewers, anticipating the approach of the later CIO Unions, were committed to organizing all workers within the industry into a single union regardless of craft. Strong ties with brewers unions in the old country helped preserve this orientation. The Brewers were noted for ideologically left, i.e. generally socialist positions, in their approach to "class struggle" and race issues. The Brewers adopted a union label to be placed on all union-made beer, and the public was encouraged to buy "union label" products. Gustav Maisch was the Local's first President, followed by Herman Bender, Konstantin Waldvogel, Joseph Voegele, and Wilhlem Meyer.

The first year's meetings, September 1887-September, 1888, were held in Pittsburgh; the second and third year's meetings October 1888-December 1890 were in Allegheny City; from January 1891-November 1892, the Brewers returned once more to Pittsburgh. The early meeting places of the Local were Beulstein's Hall, Arbeiter Hall and Volz Hall in Allegheny City (the names themselves reflecting the ethnicity of the union) and in Pittsburgh at the Ritterhalle. (In later years, c. 1910, the Local met at Moorehead Hall the Arnfeld Building and, after 1914, at the Wabash Building, 410 Liberty Avenue).