Showing posts with label craft beer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label craft beer. Show all posts

Thursday, March 24, 2022

Starbucks employees are trying to “kick down the door” across the entire food and beverage service industry

Less than one and one-half miles away from the flagship Starbucks that launched a global coffee empire five decades ago, employees unanimously voted for their shop to unionize. It became the seventh such store to vote to unionize, joining five stores in Buffalo, New York, and one in Mesa, Arizona. Of the 157 (and rising) Starbucks currently organizing or planning to organize, only one thus far (also in Buffalo) has sided with management.

Pay careful attention to what the employees of the Seattle store that just went union told The Seattle Times in speaking about what this vote means for employees in the food and beverage service industry generally.

Wednesday, March 23, 2022

The nuts and bolts of your company code of conduct

Yesterday I explained why your company needs a code of conduct separate from or adjunct to your already-existing anti-harassment policy. 

Today, I'm back to explain what it should contain, to whom it should apply, how violations are addressed, and how it should be disseminated.

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

Does your craft brewery or other company have a code of conduct?

Meet Brienne Allan, a brewer at Notch Brewing in Salem, Mass. In May 2021 she asked a simple question in an Instagram Story— "What sexist comments have you experienced?"

What followed were hundreds upon hundreds of stories of sex-based discrimination, harassment, and other abuse.

Friday, March 11, 2022

WIRTW #617: the “drive-thru” edition

Earlier this week I had the pleasure of guesting on DriveThruHR, one of the oldest and (in my opinion) best HR radio shows/podcasts. We discussed the end of my pandemic practice, the start of my craft beer practice, how alcohol is in my blood (and not in the way you might think), the sudden and successful rise of the labor movement, and some worst employers. Thanks to Mike VanDervort for the invite, and Mike and Robin Schooling for the discussion. 

You can listen here, or wherever you get your podcasts.

Here's what I read this past week that I think you should be reading, too.

Monday, March 7, 2022

THIS is why craft breweries need to pay very close attention to labor unions

It was a simple question posed in the Craft Beef Professionals Facebook group: "Conversations on fair compensation are extremely important in our industry. What is a brewery that impresses you with the way they treat their team?" 

Out of the dozens of responses, this one should scare the hell out of any craft brewery owner: 
The IWW is looking into this and the other plethora of issues we face as workers in this industry. Reach out to if you're interested in creating a better work environment near you.
When I scream at the top of my lungs to craft breweries that they need to pay attention to union organizing, this is why.

Friday, March 4, 2022

WIRTW #616: the “cocktail” edition

Have you heard about Pravda Brewery, in Lviv, Ukraine. It has stopped producing craft beer and instead is making Molotov cocktails for the Ukrainian Territorial Defense Forces.

Yuri Zastavny, the brewery's owner, told Fox News that he and his workers decided to use their knowledge of chemistry, skills, supplies, and labor to contribute to the fight.

"Once we understand what can come through beer — because it’s no time for beer, we need to get other things sorted out — we decided to make Molotov cocktails because we can use bottles, we can use the people, and it was a grassroots idea." 

Zastavny added, "If you can brew, then you can make Molotov cocktails."

This is most definitely not what I had in mind when I decided to become a beer lawyer.

Here's what I read this past week that I think you should be reading, too.

Thursday, March 3, 2022

Brewery CEO out after backlash to controversial vaccine comments

Vaccine mandates are a crime against humanity.

If you are not speaking out against them, you are a conspirator.
Those are the words Josh Stylman, the co-founder and now former CEO of Brooklyn, New York's Threes Brewing, recently shared on his personal Twitter account. He's also compared vaccine mandates to Jim Crow laws, the Nazi regime, and other historical atrocities. 

Wednesday, February 23, 2022

Tip credits and tip pools — the tip of the FLSA iceberg

No employment law is more misunderstood and misapplied by employers than the Fair Labor Standards Act, our federal wage and hour law. There are more than 8,000 federal FLSA lawsuits filed per year, with nearly one-quarter filed against employers in the accommodation and food service industry … including craft breweries. 

These employers get themselves in legal trouble because of the special manner in which service industry employees are compensated. If you employ workers who customarily and regularly receive more than $30 a month in tips (and every craft brewery does), there are two key FLSA phrases you must understand to avoid FLSA landmines — tip credit and tip pool.

Tuesday, February 15, 2022

What do you do for a living?

The question, "What do you do for a living," doesn't have a straight-line answer. My law firm bio offers several answers. 

There is a lot to unpack in that bio.

Friday, February 11, 2022

WIRTW #613: the “competition” edition

On July 9, 2021, President Biden issued Executive Order 14036, Promoting Competition in the American Economy. Its goal is to reduce the trend of corporate consolidation, increase competition, and deliver concrete benefits to America's consumers, workers, and small businesses.

To that end, the Treasury Department has been investigating competition in the beer, wine, and spirits industries. Earlier this week, it published its report

It details how the government should be working to open up competition in these industries to help the small businesses that fuel it. 

It also makes some specific recommendations, including on the anticompetitive dangers of horizontal consolidation within the industry, and how state laws (such as beverage franchise laws) can be amended to eliminate or mitigate the anticompetitive effects of states' traditional three-tier supply chain system of passing alcoholic beverages from the producer/supplier, to the distributor/wholesaler, and ultimately to the retailer.

If you have any interest in these industries in particular, or more generally as to how the power of state and federal governments can be harnessed to help free enterprise by removing barriers to competition, I recommend reading the Treasury Department's report.

Here's what else I read this past week that I think you should be reading, too.

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

We are officially in the Golden Age of Union Organizing. How will your company respond?

Yesterday, the White House Task Force on Worker Organization and Empowerment released its 45-page report on the use of executive branch policies, practices, and programs to promote the Biden Administration's support for worker power, worker organizing, and collective bargaining.

The key takeaway for employers? The Task Force has recommended that the federal government use its "authority to support worker empowerment by providing information, improving transparency, and making sure existing pro-worker services are delivered in a timely and helpful manner." 

Yikes! 😱

How will the federal government accomplish this?

Monday, January 24, 2022

Coronavirus Update 1-24-22: I’m a Covid statistic

It was a calculated risk. I've been so careful for the past 22 months. We don't socialize outside of a very small bubble. We don't eat in restaurants or go to bars unless we can be outside. We've given up concerts and traveling. I wear my KN95 mask everywhere. 

But before Omicron changed the Covid-19 narrative, I decided that my firm would sponsor the Ohio Craft Brewers Conference. I also agreed to speak at the event. And we timed the launch of our brand new Craft Beer Practice Area around the conference. 

It was a safe event. Vaccines or negative tests were required of all attendees. Masks were mandatory at the event unless eating or drinking. I wore my KN95 mask everywhere. I was still nervous about spending three days out of town. But at my request, my firm had made a substantial financial investment in the event. So I packed my KN95 masks and my hand sanitizer, and off I went.

Twenty-four hours after returning home I felt my first symptoms — a scratchy throat and a mild dry cough. That's it. But having been out and about, I decided to home test. Negative.

Thursday, January 20, 2022

If you treat employees like they are fungible, they will act like they are fungible

I spent the past few days at the Ohio Craft Brewers Conference promoting my new venture, In addition to being one of the event's sponsors, trying to network in as Covid-safe of a way as possible, and learning about the business of craft beer, I also was a presenter. My chosen topic was how to hire and retain employees in the midst of the Great Resignation. 

I thought of my presentation as I read about the situation at Noah's NY Bagels in Vacaville, California. The restaurant's entire staff of 15 quit their jobs en masse in protest of their manager's (unjust, in their view) termination. The story took off after a TikTok, posted by one of the employees and captioned, "Say no to toxic management," went viral.

Friday, January 14, 2022

Stepping out of my confort zone

Sometimes you need to step out of your comfort zone to move forward, including in one's career. 

For the past 25 years, I've been a management-side labor and employment lawyer. I've represented employers in just about every type of employee dispute you can imagine and counseled too many to count on a countless number of issues.

Still, I yearn for growth. One of the industries I've had the pleasure of representing over the years is the craft beer industry. Thus, I've helped spearhead the launch of Wickens Herzer Panza's brand new Craft Beer Practice Group. I'm excited to be one of the two leaders of this group, along with one of my partners, Grant Steyer. You'll find our new practice at

I'm still a practicing labor and employment lawyer (don't worry). I'm just adding "craft beer lawyer" to my arsenal.

Tuesday, October 19, 2021

“Striketober” highlights union organizing concerns for Ohio craft breweries

One of the unexpected byproducts of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic is a corresponding rise in union organizing and other union-related activity. This crisis has magnified attention on key union agenda items and talking points such as worker safety and higher pay. Unions have not been shy about pressing these issues. "Striketober" is in full effect, with more than 100,000 workers walking off the job in the past week alone. According to The Wall Street Journal, employees are angry and are increasingly turning to labor unions to vent.

Unions, however, are not just focusing on current members. More importantly for all employers, potential members also have unions' full attention. Indeed, earlier this summer, and hitting way too close to home, production employees at Great Lakes Brewing Company, Ohio's oldest and largest craft brewery, signed union cards to be represented by the United Steelworkers.

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Will work for beer

According to Boy Genius Report, archeologists in Iraq recently discovered a 5,000-year-old Mesopotamian tablet, which the site artfully describes as a “pay stub for beer due.” If the interpretation of the tablet is to be believed, ancient Mesopotamians were paid in beer for their labor.

“That was 3000 B.C., and this is 2016 A.D.,” you’re saying to yourself. “What possible relevance does this story have to modern employers?” The answer may surprise you.