This Day in Milwaukee County History: on April 26th, 1948, a strike by CIO Brewery Workers in Milwaukee cuts off production of over 12 percent of the United States’ beer supply. Six of the city’s major breweries were affected by the walkout. Bottling house employees of the Schlitz Brewing Company had failed to show up the night before. By the early morning, bottle house employees from the Blatz, Pabst, Miller, Gettelman and Independant brewing companies had joined in the walkout.
The strike lasted a full 24 days. By the end of the first week, local bars and taverns were running precariously low on the product that made Milwaukee famous.
The strike had broken out due to a dispute over wages. The Local 9 of the CIO Brewery Workers Union had demanded a wage increase of $16 per week. The breweries countered with an offer of $5.50. This offer was unacceptable for the Local 9, and thus the strike began.
For days, negotiations went on between the two parties, with long periods of time where talks were shut down completely. By May 11th, the Union had sliced its demand down to $8.75 per week. With the talks running into the early hours of the morning, the breweries offered up an increase $6.50. The Local 9 decided to put this offer to a member vote. To ensure the vote would pass, the breweries offered an additional 30 cents per week. The vote was overwhelmingly in favor and by May 19, all employees were back to work.