The twisty-mustache fantasy
🎧 The Fingers Podcast with Benjamin Anderson, craft labor writer and scholar
You know how there seem to be a lot of union drives at coffee shops, craft breweries, and artisanal bakeries these days, and you don’t really get it because you always figured that since their products were so much more delicious than their corporate counterparts, they must treat their workers much better, too? What’s up with that?
So glad you asked. Today on The Fingers Podcast and exclusively for paying Friends of Fingers, I’ve got an interview with Benjamin Anderson, a Ph.D. candidate and instructor at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia.1 Ben studies the labor movement in the so-called contemporary “craft” sectors—breweries, distilleries, coffeehouses, and so on. Basically, if it’s local, artisanal, or farm-to-table, he’s probably researched the conditions of the people that make it. His work has been published in a variety of journals and collections, and he’s finishing up his doctorate as we speak.
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During our recording session in mid-March, Ben and I got into a ton of tactical and philosophical questions about the labor movement’s role in the craft brewing business, including the unique challenges of unionizing small shops, how the “we’re a family” myth at work keeps many employees from realizing their collective power, and the ways workers of different backgrounds are able to organize based on shared conditions in “craft” contexts. We also talked about the misleading myth of craft brewing’s “twisty-mustache fantasy;” I snuck in a garbage reference to the Avett Brothers and the Aughts’ short-lived “stomp, clap, hey” cultural aesthetic, which Ben graciously pretended to understand. It was a wide-ranging and super-informative conversation, and if you care about worker power, or the health of the craft beer business—or both—I think you’ll find it fascinating. I sure hope so.
👀 More #content for further inquiry
The Forgotten Labour of Craft: Exploitation and Organizing in Artisanal Industries (Journal of Canadian Labour Studies)
The Forgotten Labour of Craft (lecture transcript)
Refining Creative Labour: Precarity and Autonomy in Cultural and Craft Industries (Journal of Canadian Labour Studies)
Framed! Labor and the Corporate Media (this book is actually by Christopher R. Martin, but Ben recommended it in our interview)
Craft beer's "99% asshole-free" myth (Fingers)
🎧 Other recent episodes of The Fingers Podcast
That’s Canada, for you folks keeping track at home, which means The Fingers Podcast is officially international. Congratulations to us all.