Friday, November 16, 2012

A bridge builder

Howard Wallace on a picket line at dawn in 2008.
The longtime labor and LGBT activist died Thursday at 76. He spanned the divide between the gay community and the labor movement when such an alliance was novel, almost unthinkable.

In the 1970s, Coors Brewing, then a family-owned company in Colorado, broke a strike by bringing in replacement workers and winning a certification election against its Teamster employees. The labor movement called for a boycott of their beer. Concurrently the company was fighting discrimination suits from Latino workers and family members were funding conservative causes including opposition to gay rights.

Wallace brought the Coors boycott to the San Francisco gay community and soon queers were demanding "Coors out of the bars!"

The AFL-CIO called off its boycott in 1987 and Coors -- now a multi-national corporation -- made itself a highly visible funder to LGBT events.

Howard Wallace devoted his life to building the labor power and gay liberation as overlapping movements in San Francisco. We're the better for his devotion to this community. More tributes to Howard here.

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