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Friday, January 30, 2015 |  Madison, WI: 17.0° F  Mostly Cloudy
The Paper
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Labor activists consider the politics of beer

Monday's annual LaborFest had special significance this year in the wake of Gov. Walker's attack on unions. The festival at the Labor Temple on Park Street drew a larger crowd than in recent years.

But one thing puzzled some: Why was LaborFest serving Miller Beer? MillerCoors gave Walker more than $22,000 in 2010 and has been targeted by anti-Walker boycotts.

"It's been a point of contention," admits Eric Cobb, executive director of the Building and Construction Trades Council of South Central Wisconsin. "The Labor Temple pretty much only serves union beer."

Whether the Temple continues serving Miller beer, Cobb says, is "definitely going to be at the top of the list of points for discussion."

Wisconsin has no shortage of microbrewers. But few, if any, are unionized. "They're just small," says Bill Fetty, a member of the Autonomous Solidarity Organization. "It's not that they're anti-union."

And they've certainly got an ax to grind with Walker, who stuck it to microbreweries by restricting their ability to possess a wholesaler's license.

Fetty is organizing The People's Oktoberfest for Oct. 15 on Martin Luther King Jr. Boulevard. The festival will draw attention to the new law and help raise money for community gardens and other groups.

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