Upcoming Events 🗓
Join us today, Monday, April 11, at 8 p.m. ET for a conversation with Amazon Labor Union (ALU) president Chris Smalls and ALU organizers Angelika Maldonado and Michelle Valentin Nieves on how they and their co-workers achieved the most important union victory in decades and what workers across the country can learn on how to organize their workplaces. Featuring special guest, Sen. Bernie Sanders, you don’t want to miss this. RSVP here now!
The Starbucks Reserve Roastery in Chelsea voted to unionize last week, making it the ninth union store in the country, following wins in Buffalo, N.Y.; Seattle; Mesa, Ariz.; and the first in New York. Results of a Knoxville, Tenn., union election are being verified by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), and another store in Springfield, Vt., will hold their own election next week.
These historic wins, buoyed by the victory at Amazon in Staten Island, have lifted workers’ spirits and illuminated the light at the end of the long tunnel of workplace organizing. It’s important to note, too, that Starbucks has long been known for their “progressive” branding as a family-, POC- and LGBTQ-friendly workplace, as has REI, whose retail store in SoHo recently voted to unionize last month. Companies that hide behind “progressive” ideals are arguably more insidious than their evil corporate counterparts because they engage in a kind of worker-gaslighting as a form of union-busting: “You have it so good here, why would you risk that?”
REI even released a now-infamous union-busting podcast featuring Wilma Wallace, the company’s chief diversity and social impact officer, who wants you to know both her pronouns and that she is speaking to you from the traditional lands of the Ohlone people. An executive at a “progressive” company might even say that they don’t oppose unions, they just think it’s not the right thing for their company.
But workers are too smart for that! They can see beyond the blatant manipulation tactics these companies use. And the first step to taking them down is to chip away at their “progressive” public facade. As these recent wins show, real workplace equality comes from the workers.
World of Work 🌍
AL: The International Longshoremen’s Association Local 1410 in Mobile, Ala., watched as COVID-19 cases swept through the maritime workforce, ultimately infecting about 20 percent of it. The Department of Labor accepted 86 percent of COVID-19 claims for federal workers, while it accepted only 7 percent of COVID-19 related claims from longshore and other harbor workers.
NY/TN: Starbucks fired another outspoken union leader in the Buffalo, N.Y., market on Friday, continuing a purge of key members of Starbucks Workers United leadership. U.S. labor board prosecutors plan to formally accuse Starbucks Corp. of illegally firing a group of activists.
TX and CA: Massive grocery strike threats continue to escalate, with at least 35,000 California grocery workers ready to walk at Kroger and Albertsons–owned stores.
New From Our Blog 📧
Many labor rights are federally protected, but the specific laws can vary from state to state. New York has been the site of several recent labor wins, from Amazon in Staten Island, to REI in SoHo. If you’re a New York–based worker interested in organizing your workplace, check out Natalie Robbins’ explainer on your labor rights in New York for the EWOC blog.
Week in Labor History 📚
April 1–13, 1972: The first players’ strike in Major League Baseball ended resumed when the owners and players agreed on an increase in pension fund payments and to add salary arbitration to the collective bargaining agreement.
Share Your EWOC Story
Did you reach out to EWOC for support organizing your workplace or use our resources to organize your workplace? Have you gone through our workplace organizer training series? We want you to share your EWOC story! By sharing how EWOC helped you, you can help inspire workers, volunteers, and organizers across the country to reach out to us for support and get involved in the labor movement. Just a few sentences about your experience can help us connect with more people. Share your story here today!