Insomnia Cookies Strikers Win Back Pay; Company Must Post Notice, Agree Not to Retaliate for Union Activity

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“…Something told me to stand up for what I believe in. To me, this victory was worth every bit of the struggle.” – Jonathan Peña, IWW member and Insomnia Cookies Striker.

Four workers at Insomnia Cookies’ Cambridge store went on strike on August 19, protesting poverty pay and wretched working conditions, and demanding $15/hr, health benefits and a union at their workplace. The company illegally fired all four. For the next six months strikers, IWW members, allies, and student organizations at both Harvard and Boston University held pickets, marches, rallies, forums, phone blitzes, and organized boycotts, while workers continued organizing at both the Cambridge and Boston locations. The union also pursued legal charges through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

On March 3, a company representative signed an agreement promising almost $4,000 in back pay to the four strikers (two of whom had given notice before going on strike; and all of whom had moved on to more rewarding jobs or pursuits). The company also agreed to post a notice in the Cambridge store, promising not to fire or otherwise retaliate against workers for taking collective action, including joining the union and going on strike. The company was also made to revise a confidentiality agreement that improperly restricted workers’ rights to discuss their conditions of employment with one another and third parties (including union organizers and the media). All references to the terminations have been removed from strikers’ personnel files.

“Since the first utterance of the word ‘strike’ that late August night, it has been an uphill battle for all of us,” says striker Chris Helali. “The Industrial Workers of the World answered the call when no other mainstream union was interested in organizing a small cookie store in Harvard Square. We picketed, we chanted, we sang. I thank my fellow workers, the IWW and all of our supporters for their continued work and solidarity through this campaign. I am proud to be a Wobbly (IWW member)!”Jonathan Peña says, “I remember just feeling real conservative that August night, but something told me to stand up for what I believe in. I had nothing to lose but I had much to gain. Being apart of the IWW means something to me. I will never forget the four amigos, Niko, Chris, Luke, and [me]. We actually made a difference. Being a Wobbly can change your life! I just want to really thank everyone for their solidarity and commitment to crumbling down on this burnt Cookie.”

The IWW vows to continue organizing efforts at Insomnia Cookies. Helali says, “ I am extremely pleased with the settlement, however, it does not end here. This is only the beginning. The IWW along with our supporters will continue to struggle until every Insomnia Cookies worker is treated with respect and given their full due for their labor. There is true power in a union; when workers come together and make their demands unified voices and actions.”

http://iwwboston.org/2014/03/04/insomnia-strikers-win-back-pay-company-must-post-notice-agree-not-to-retaliate-for-union-activity/

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Insomnia Cookies Union in Boston Needs Support!

This Thursday and beyond, please support Insomnia Cookies workers in their struggle for $15/hour, health benefits, and union neutrality!

**Rally Thursday, November 14, 9:30pm, Harvard Square Insomnia Store, 65 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge, MA**

Since August 18, five workers at the Harvard Square Insomnia Cookies have been fired for legally protected union activity. Help the Industrial Workers of the World demonstrate to Insomnia Cookies that we do not tolerate union-busting in Boston!

1. Upcoming Actions
2. Phone/Email Blitz
3. Sign the Petition
4. Donate to the Organizing Fund
5. Background of the Struggle

1. Please join Insomnia workers and other IWW members and supporters on the picket line:

-Thursday, November 14, 9:30pm, Harvard Square Insomnia Store, 65 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge, MA

-Friday, December 6th – Picket at Harvard Sq Store, 7-8pm Harvard Square Insomnia Store, 65 Mt Auburn St, Cambridge, MA

-Wednesday, December 11th – Service Workers Resistance forum, 7pm, Boston University – Details TBA

Can’t make the pickets? Other ways to get involved:

2. Email/Phone Blitz:

Insomnia fired IWW member Tommy Mendes after he told his boss he was a union member. Please email Tommy’s manager Ryan at ryand@insomniacookies.com, and call CEO Seth Berkowitz at (877) 632-6654 and let him know Tommy should be reinstated with back pay! For more details about the strugle at Insomnia, read the “background” at the bottom of this email.

3. Sign the petition to support the strikers’ demands:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1TLCetxHNxmGHk57FD1Sy9KAtUNHXP5alQWrgxPcb-Lk/viewform

4. Donate to the Insomnia Organizing and Strike Fund:

https://www.wepay.com/donations/insomnia-cookies-workers-strike-fund

5. Background:

At 12:00 am on Sunday, August 18th, the night shift at the Harvard Square Insomnia Cookies voted unanimously to initiate a strike for higher wages, healthcare, and freedom to build a union. They were fired immediately. On Tuesday, August 20th, all four strikers joined the Industrial Workers of the World, and launched a public campaign to achieve their goals. The workers filed legal charges against the company, and partnered with students at Harvard and Boston University (where Insomnia opened a second location in September) to hold pickets at both locations.

Two months later, on October 24th another worker, Tommy Mendes, was fired shortly after he declared his union affiliation to his supervisor. Tommy, a baker at the Harvard Square Insomnia Cookies, joined the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) after his coworkers declared their strike. According to management Tommy was fired because his register was short, but the camera trained at the register proves Tommy is blameless. The IWW believes Tommy is a target of Insomnia Cookies? ongoing union-busting, and the union is prepared to escalate until Tommy and the 4 strikers are reinstated with full back pay.

For more information about the Insomnia Cookies campaign, find us Online:
https://www.facebook.com/insomniaunion
http://iwwboston.org/

To reach the Boston IWW:
Email: iww.boston@riseup.net
Phone Number: 617-863-7920
Mailing Address: PO Box 391724
Cambridge, MA 02139
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/BostonIWW/