History of Teamsters Local 6

Gambrinus Hall.jpg

 

Brewers and Maltsters Local Union No. 6
 
Earning its place as the first city of the industry, St. Louis, Missouri, has always been one of the most important brewing centers in the United States. It is also home to the oldest union in the state.
 
It is reported that as early as 1810, St. Louis had two small breweries, but the industry made its real beginnings in the 1840s, with a influx of German immigrants who found their way to St. Louis, a great many of them settling in the Soulard area. One of these immigrants was J. Adam Lemp who is credited with bringing lager brewing to St. Louis. By the early 1870's, Lemp's Western Brewery was the largest brewery in St. Louis in a field of 30, with E. Anheuser & Company's Bavarian Brewery coming in second.
 
Prior to the trade unions beginnings, these German immigrants formed societies as a part of their national heritage that they retained when coming to America.  These societies fulfilled more of a social function for the immigrants and their families to gather, and attempted to provide for their members in case of accident, sickness, or death.
 
By the early 1880s, things began to change; Lemp and Anheuser-Busch Brewing Companies were rapidly rising to leading positions among the nation’s breweries. Breweries were becoming complex industrial establishments, and employed several hundred workers in many different capacities. 
 
The men employed by the breweries consisted mainly of German immigrants. The very nature of the industry at the time demanded the attention of workers from early in the morning until late at night, a typical brewery worker’s day average between 13 and 15 hours a day, the Missouri Bureau of Labor Statistics (1880) gave the workweek of the brewery workers of this state as 84 hours. Single men were usually forced to live at places chosen by their employers, and frequently slept in the brewery itself. Beer had become the drink of the workingman, particularly the German workingman.  
 
As the brewing industry grew, so did the concerns of the workers. These early workers formed the Brewers and Malsters Union, Local No. 6, chartered in 1886 under affiliation with the Knights of Labor. With the majority of its members of German decent, the official records for the union were written in German up until 1917.  MinutesMinutes
 
By 1911, the local was firmly established; they bought their first union hall, naming it Gambrinus Hall.  The local had their offices upstairs, and two years later, they made additions of a bowling alley, a dance floor, and several bars. The building was the Sheppard Elementary School, 3631 Salena. The building was demolished, and the spot is now used for extra parking for the current Gambrinus Hall, which was built in 1966, fourteen years after Local 6 affiliated with the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.
 
 This terra-cota insignia was issued to Local 6 while it was affiliated with the Knights of Labor. It had previouslybeen displayed at the old Gambrinus Hall. This terra-cota insignia was issued to Local 6 while it was affiliated with the Knights of Labor. It had previouslybeen displayed at the old Gambrinus Hall.
 
 
 
 
 
Rich with brewing history, the New Gambrinus Hall, has a terra-cotta insignia that was previously displayed at the old Gambrinus Hall. The insignia was issued to Local 6 while it was affiliated with the Knights of Labor. In the main meeting room hangs a brass emblem which is a traditional symbol frequently found in old German breweries, with the inscription “Vivat Das Edle Handwerk Der Bierbraver” in English means “Hail to the Handiwork of the Beer Brewer.” The arched beams, also in the main meeting room, are said to have been imported from Germany. In the main entry hangs a painting of King Gambrinus and the original charters of Local 6.  
 
Today, Teamsters Local 6 represents, Brewers, Bottlers, Fireman Oilers, Show Horse Drivers, Brewery Drivers, Maintenance, Helpers, and Guards. Over the years, Gambrinus Hall has hosted many parties, events, and wedding receptions. It can still be rented by contacting Kenrick’s Meats and Catering at 314-631-2440.