Upcoming Events 🗓
Join NYC DSA labor branch Monday, January 24th at 7:30pm ET for a panel discussion about how socialists are organizing our workplaces! Panelists will talk about what has worked, what hasn’t, and how EWOC will fit into the larger struggle. RSVP here.
EWOC’s Workplace Organizer Training Series is back again! The first semester of 2022 will begin March 9. In four discussion sessions over two weeks, you will be introduced to the fundamental principles of effective shop-floor organizing: mapping and charting, leader identification, bringing co-workers together around common concerns, getting over fear, taking action, and escalating demands. Register for the training series today!
NYC: 116 workers at REI in SoHo have filed for an union with the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU) and United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). Management has already started their union-busting campaign. Support and stay up to date with @REIEmployees as they fight for recognition. If you’re an REI worker hoping to organize your store, reach out to EWOC for support.
The news out of congress last week was grim, if predictable — the failure of the senate to suspend filibuster rules for voting rights legislation sounds like a death knell for the PRO Act. But against this backdrop of government inaction, grassroots labor organizing continues to spread and to demonstrate the potential of new tactics.
The organizing wave across hundreds of Starbucks locations is a reason for optimism and action. After workers at the Elmwood Avenue Starbucks in Buffalo, N.Y., won their union in December, employees in Seattle, Boston, and Chicago quickly filed for their own elections; inspired Starbucks workers nationwide sprung into action. Exact numbers are difficult to discern, but at least several dozen locations across fifteen states now await NLRB–administered votes. Hundreds of stores have reached out to Starbucks Workers United or to EWOC seeking support for their organizing campaigns.
For a company that tries to project a progressive image, offering employees carefully crafted aesthetics of workplace democracy without the thing itself, this is no doubt an unqualified code red. The campaigns still represent a small portion of the total Starbucks workforce, but wins are accumulating, and the movement continues to grow at an incredible pace. Starbucks worker-organizers are strategically engaging the media to inspire their comrades in other stores to action: it’s a novel strategy which, for now, is working marvelously.
The company has maintained that it will bargain in good faith with its newly unionized workforces — whether they will follow through on the promise remains to be seen. The Elmwood Avenue workers in Buffalo have stayed vigilant and remained militant: the staff walked off the job earlier this month over inadequate staff and equipment to work safely amid surging COVID-19 cases. Ultimately, organized workplaces with strong solidarity will be crucial. The labor fights ahead will require true rank-and-file militancy, even after the NLRB votes are won. Starbucks workers are showing us what that solidarity looks like.
World of Work 🌍
CO: Workers at King Soopers (a Colorado supermarket chain) ended a nine-day strike after reaching a tentative agreement with the company. Union members will vote on the new contract on Monday. According to union representatives, the new contract increases wages and improves benefits and protections for the workers.
NY: App-based delivery workers have reason to celebrate this week, as a bill passed last fall affirming their right to use restaurant bathrooms and see how their tips are allocated will go into effect today. The law was passed as part of a slate of bills aiming to give gig workers more rights and power. “We feel like winners,” said a Relay app worker. “It’s emotional to think about how far we’ve come.”
USA: Raven Software QA workers (part of Activision Blizzard and responsible for Call of Duty) have officially filed to unionize with Communication Workers of America (CWA). Although Activision Blizzard workers have been organizing for change at their workplace for several months, this is the first step towards formal unionization. The workers have asked management to voluntarily recognize the union, however the company has thus far failed to do so.