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Surly workers union fails by razor-thin margin, abstained votes

Surly's erstwhile Beer Hall

Surly's erstwhile Beer Hall Star Tribune

Wednesday afternoon, workers in the front of house and kitchen at Surly Brewing Company participated in an election conducted by a third party that would determine the future of their union. 

At stake were the right to healthcare during the pandemic, the ability to speak without intimidation, and the ability to negotiate with their employer.

When the final votes were tallied, 56 were cast in favor of unionizing, and 20 against. That means 76 percent were into it! …Yet the push to unionize failed. 

As rules stipulate, a majority of all eligible voters must be in agreement. There were 36 individuals tallied as “abstained” yesterday.

“After debating who could and could not vote, we had 112 eligible voters,” read an explainer issued by Unite Surly Workers. “If you do the math, that means we lost by one vote.” 

In its own announcement of the results, Surly confirmed that plans to close its Beer Hall in November remain unchanged. Multiple commenters on Instagram’s version of the brewery's statement offer potential explanations for how 30-plus workers just… didn't show up for such an important vote. 

If scrolling through lots of comments feels daunting, here's a quick version:

Still other workers like Megan Caswell, who has been intimately involved with the unionizing process from the beginning, remain grateful to the community as her time at Surly draws to a close. 

“My biggest hope is that the public, Surly Nation!, knows how integral they were to our fight and how eternally grateful I am for their support,” she told City Pages. “Our intention going forward is to stick together and make the absolute best of the time we have left…. We never would have made it this far without them.”