In the craft beer industry, stereotypes for “corporate beer” always make easy targets, especially if there are claims of emotionless management tactics. We have just such a story, but as always, the sides are a little skewed. According to a KTVU.com article, workers from the Pyramid Breweries’ Berkeley Alehouse, Calif., location are claiming they were laid off as an act of retaliation for trying to unionize.
Background: Pyramid Breweries is a part of the corporate roll-up North American Breweries (which boasts brands like Honey Brown and Labatt Blue) and was also recently purchased by Cerveceria Costa Rica, a unit of the Costa Rican company Florida Ice & Farm Co. Pyramid Breweries is headquartered in Seattle, but it produces beer under the Pyramid brand at two breweries and several brewpubs in Washington, Oregon and California. From the article mentioned:
The workers suspect that the parent company — New York-based North American Breweries — is retaliating against them for unionizing in August. They said weeks after they moved to unionize, company officials told them they were shutting down the plant because there was a contamination problem. Workers were told not to come back unless they were called.
“We were always a small group that did everything in the brewery, so it’s heartbreaking to be just kind of pushed out of the facility,” said Pyramid Breweries worker Amalia Davila.
Pyramid Breweries’ Berkeley Alehouse has 15 employees, according to the report. The company said in a statement that the beer brewed in Berkeley had an unintentional sour taste, which was the reason the brewpub went offline. We reached out to Pyramid Breweries, and the company’s PR agency had this to say: “Thanks for reaching out and giving us an opportunity to respond to the story. Both sides have agreed to communicate directly with one another. We are committed to upholding that agreement. We will talk directly with our employees and union representatives. We won’t comment, negotiate or disclose those conversations through the media.” Apparently, workers were offered severance packages, but didn’t seem too happy about the situation.
Workers said they don’t want the severance package the company is offering. They told KTVU they want to return when the Berkeley plant comes back online, even if it takes months. “We’re a family. We’re still a family,” said worker Amalia Davila. … The employees hope their union will meet with company officials next week to work out a deal for them to keep their jobs.
For more controversy involving North American Breweries, re-read this trademark dispute with Kentucky’s West Sixth Brewery and North American Breweries’ Magic Hat Brewing Co. brand. Noting, West Sixth helped stir the pot in that scenario.