When the Surly Law was signed by Governor Mark Dayton (DFL-MN) on May 24, 2011 it posed the the greatest challenge to the three tier system of Minnesota’s alcohol laws since they were set up after the Prohibition Era. It allowed something people have now gotten used to, which is being able to consume alcoholic beverages at the location in which they are brewed. When we heard the employees at Surly had voted to unionize, we must confess we were not surprised to learn right after Surly was announced it was closing down indefinitely. The accomplishment of the bills passage was a feather in the cap of Omar Ansari who started production in 2005, but this latest move is a slap in the face of his employees and and not reflective of a progressive owner. We expect the COVID-19 Pandemic may be the straw that broke the proverbial camel’s back, or maybe that is just the excuse.
The fact the employees sought some form of employment protection during a global pandemic is not a surprise, but also a question is, were the working conditions tenable to their satisfaction, or did they need additional ones? We have appreciated the experience at the Surly Brewing Company on a number of occasions and look forward to its reopening and a step back into normalcy, while at the same time, we support the effort to ensure the employees are duly compensated.