D.C. officials have agreed to remove Coors Beer as sponsor of tomorrow's first annual Georgia Avenue Day festival following a request by the AFL-CIO, which has been running a national boycott for six years against Coors because of alleged unfair labor practices.
City Council member Charlene Drew Jarvis (D-Ward 4), co-chairwoman of the business-promotion festival, said yesterday that she and council member Frank Smith (D-Ward 1), along with a representative of Mayor Marion Barry, agreed at a meeting with labor officials Tuesday to scrap plans to have Coors banners, baseball caps, promotional flyers and reduced-price Coors beer at the all-day event.
Georgia Avenue Day has been planned for months, but it was not until this week that the AFL-CIO's Metropolitan Washington Council asked for the boycott. "They were unfortunately rather late" in communicating, Jarvis said, "But once they explained. . . we were very willing" to cooperate.
The Coors boycott began in 1977 after a bitter strike ended in the decertification of the Brewery Workers union at Coors' brewery in Golden, Colo. The strike drew national attention because of publicity about Coors' use of lie detectors to screen new employes, criticisms of its treatment of minorities, and because of the outspoken conservatism of Joseph and William Coors.
Coors spokesman John Meadows in Colorado said yesterday the firm was aware of the cancellation of its sponsorship "and it is really unfortunate that this type of intimidation is allowed to happen in Washington."
He said Coors has not been found guilty of any unfair labor practices by the National Labor Relations Board and he called the AFL-CIO campaign "a sham" which is being conducted because unions have been unable to reorganize the company.
Jarvis said that Coors' local distributor, American Sales Co., agreed to use another brand of beer at tomorrow's event.