Trillium Brewing Co. reinstated employees’ pay after criticisms of its labor practices

The popular craft brewery released a statement.

Trillium Storrowed.
Trillium Brewing Co. has responded to recent backlash. –Trillium Brewing Company

Trillium Brewing Co. reinstated its original pay rate for tenured retail staff who took a pay cut as the company opened a Fort Point restaurant and brewery in October.

The decision comes after criticisms of the brewery’s labor practices embroiled the craft beer community just before Thanksgiving. On Monday, Trillium posted a statement that addresses some of those allegations:

“We would like to address recent comments regarding our employment practices. The conversation regarding tip-based wages is a long-running restaurant consideration, but is now also relevant in the young craft brewery retail industry. Five years ago we adopted this model and have watched the industry around us grow largely in the same way. Whether or not this model is the ideal model for our industry as a whole has been a topic of debate recently, and we want to be part of the discussion as the industry matures and moves forward with more amazing local craft breweries opening up every year. We have already spoken with the Massachusetts Brewers’ Guild to begin a discussion locally in our state, to start the conversation, and help each other identify best practices for the benefit of our employees and our customers.”

Last week, an anonymous user on a BeerAdvocate forum accused Trillium of cutting its retail staff wages from $8 per hour to $5 per hour after opening the Fort Point location. In an interview with the Boston Globe, co-founder JC Tetreault said that “the pay cuts affected a handful of longtime retail employees” and that “we made a mistake.”

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In the statement, Trillium said the company’s leadership has met with affected employees and reinstated their former pay rate:

“We pay our team in accordance with typical standards in the craft beer industry and with state and federal wage and hour laws. Feedback on our model from our staff has been overwhelmingly positive. We listen to feedback and try to respond quickly to improve the experience for our team and our customers. We opened Fort Point just one month ago and, in that process, some of our tenured retail staff were given a lower rate than they had previously been making. We have since met with those team members and reinstated their original rate. We have also reached out to our entire staff to discuss the situation, address any questions regarding compensation and benefits, and ask for their feedback, as it is critical to our success.”

The brewery’s statement, however, does not address the quality-control issues that were raised in the original Beer Advocate post, including the allegation that Trillium fills growlers with beer from trub kegs. Co-founder JC Tetreault said in a Trillium Brewing Fans Facebook Group last week that “Since we don’t filter our beer, it’s normal to have some kegs at the end of a packaging run with a small amount of trub from the bottom of the tank (settled out hops, yeast, malt proteins). We give these time to allow the kegs to settle and pour out the trub until the beer is pouring properly.”

Tetreault did not respond to multiple requests for comment. 

Trillium’s full statement can be found here.

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