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Fair State Brewing Co-op makes history as it recognizes union

Fair State is now the first unionized microbrewery in the country

Workers at Fair State Brewing Cooperative announced Wednesday the company has voluntarily recognized their union, making it the first microbrewery in the U.S. to do so.

After a majority vote, the 25 eligible employees presented their intent to unionize to CEO Evan Sallee earlier this week, who agreed to recognize it after speaking with the company's board of directors, a press release says.  

“This is one more step to building the business that we have envisioned from the beginning – one where workers and consumers each have a say and stake in a business, working together to build something beautiful and thriving," Sallee said in a statement.  

Workers at all three shops will join Unite Here Local 17, which represents more than 6,000 Twin Cities hospitality workers. 

“I’ve been proud to work at a place like Fair State that doesn’t simply talk about community and democracy but attempts to structure itself to live up to those ideals. Now we get to enter an amazing new phase where that can be matched up with the formal voice of a union to better empower the workers at Fair State,” warehouse specialist Anders Bloomquist said in a statement. 

Fair State is one of several Twin Cities food and drink establishments this summer whose workers have sought to unionize, and is the fourth to be recognized by employers so far.

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The owners of Minneapolis distilleries Stilheart and Lawless voluntarily recognized unions Monday. In late August, Tattersall Distillery employees became the country's first craft distillery to unionize after election votes were finalized in late August.

Workers at Surly's Destination Brewhall and Spyhouse Coffee have also announced intentions to unionize, though Surly sparked controversy when it closed the brewhall just days after the motion to unionize was announced.

Fair State, which is one of the first cooperatively-owned breweries in the country, was founded in 2014, and is classed as a microbrewery as it produces less than 15,000 barrels a year.

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