BY JONATHAN VALANIA FOR THE PHILLY POST: There was a time back in the 90s that a portion of my nightly prayers were devoted to asking God to make Dick Yuengling adopt me.* Such was the depth of my devotion to Yuengling lager back in the day. It was church and everything else was just beer. It wasn’t just that Yuengling offered full-bodied flavor and a rich amber hue at a reasonable price in a marketplace monopolized by over-priced, piss-tinted corporate firewater. Yuengling represented the triumph of indie, proof that a small family-owned brand tucked away in the mountainous redoubts of Pennsyltucky’s Coal Belt could take on the transnational corporate beer barons and not only hold its own, but grow up to be the largest American-owned brewer in the nation. And it only took 184 years!
But then some things happened that soured my love.
1. Dick Yuengling became a bit of a baron himself. In 2006, Dick Yuengling gave his employees a choice: your union or your job. “Read between the lines,” he told the assembled workforce in Pottsville, either vote to de-certify the union or he would move the brewery to one of those so-called ‘right to work’ states in the Dirty South where workers’ rights pretty much begin and end with the right to shut the f*ck up and jump down, turn around, pick a bail of cotton.
2. Dick’s arrogance seemed to grow in direct proportion with his burgeoning market share and his ballooning net worth, currently valued at upwards of one billion dollars. He recently declared that he wants to expand his operations and was looking to build a new brewery, possibly in western Pennsylvania. But if Harrisburg doesn’t lift the onerous business tax burden it places on the backs of businesses like Yuengling, he was going to build out of state, probably in one of those so-called “right to work” states in the Dirty South where workers’ rights pretty much begin and end with the right to shut the fuck up and jump down, turn around, pick a bale of cotton. MORE