Surly Brewing Co. has reached an agreement with some of its hospitality and kitchen staff to hold a vote on whether the group will form a union.
However, the workers are still set to lose their jobs when the brewery’s beer hall closes Nov. 2 because of financial difficulties.
Late last month, workers at the popular brewery’s beer hall and pizzeria informed management they wanted to unionize to address pay issues and safety concerns.
Days later, Surly owner Omar Ansari announced he would close the beer hall “indefinitely” due to a steep decline in revenue since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. He said about 150 people would lose their jobs.
At the time, Sheigh Freeberg, secretary-treasurer of Unite Here Local 17, said he believed Surly’s announcement to close was retaliatory, calling it “a clearly illegal and disgusting act.”
However, on Thursday Unite Here announced it was withdrawing its unfair labor practice charge against the brewery.
“We appreciate Surly’s efforts in reaching this agreement on a fair process,” the union said in a statement. “We do understand the financial predicament faced by restaurants, hotels, and other businesses that employ members of our union stemming from COVID-19.”
At the time of the closure announcement, Ansari said Surly’s on-site food and beer sales were down 82% over last year, and the business failed to make a profit in July.
Surly spokeswoman Tiffany Jackson termed conversations over the unionization efforts productive.
“The union recognizes the financial and operational challenges Surly has faced since the start of the pandemic,” she said. “The union has withdrawn the unfair labor practice charge alleging that closing the beer hall was related to its organizing efforts. We, the union and Surly, agree to support a free and fair election so that everyone can make the right decision for themselves.”