From the Archives: "Boycott Coors Beer" protest comic book from 1977

Coors has been a prominent name in Denver since the brewery was founded in the late 1800s, and that history has not been without controversy. A succession of Coors chairmen made no bones about their conservative political leanings, particularly back in the '70s, when a brewery workers' union strike inspired a boycott.

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In April 1977, the union went on strike, citing dozens of stringent guidelines and requirements for behavior that it claimed allowed Coors to fire any employee for any reason. This glossy black-and-white comic book, published and distributed by the Coors Boycott and Strike Support Coalition of Colorado, chronicles the situation. One panel has a striker describing objectionable practices at the time:

"...They've got a whole army of armed guards patrolling the place with the supposed 'right' to search anyone they want. They want to have 56 grounds for dismissal -- including not crossing a picket line, 'uncooperative attitude,' refusing to submit to lie detector test interrogations... or 'any other just cause.'"

A few hundred union workers remained at work, and hundreds more left the picket line when Coors announced it would hire replacement workers to fill positions at the company. Coors never ceased production and the union was decertified; strikers had to find a different way to get at Coors, so the boycott was born. To support the boycott, a number of different materials were produced and disseminated -- and, like this comic, they didn't pull any punches.

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The boycott went on for close to a decade, until negotiations between Pete Coors and the AFL-CIO resulted in an undisclosed settlement -- and a new era for both the company and its employees. Since then, Coors has positioned itself as a model corporate citizen in Colorado, and the name on Denver's beloved ballpark. Pete Coors ran for Senate in 2004; his brother Joe is running for Congress this year.

The Auraria Archives and Special Collections Department holds a small treasure trove of strike and boycott materials -- two boxes filled not just with public protest literature, but also internal documents. According to archivist Rosemary Evetts, the collection was donated in 1986 by Ted Gleichman, a local physician/activist who was instrumental in creating Operation Babylift, which brought Vietnamese children to the United States, and who owned a bookstore specializing in radical material.

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