Wobblies at Prominent New York Baking Company Heighten Struggle Against Private Equity Owners

via IWW.org:

By Lawrence Goun and Biko Koenig

Workers at Tom Cat Bakery sharpened their resistance against company attacks this summer with a solidarity BBQ in front of the Queens-based factory. Tom Cat’s private equity owners, Ancor and Merit Capital, are seeking devastating health care cuts and other takeaways from workers in contract negotiations with the Bakery Union. Dual-card IWW members are leading a struggle to build long-term power and secure a good contract, after beating back a de-certification attempt from a mob-dominated union earlier this year.

“These out-of-town investors already have their mansions, while we barely can support our families. The cuts they’re demanding are impossible and we’re united against them,” said Marino Aquino, a night-shift packer at Tom Cat and a member of the IWW. “Our unity is our strength and we will keep the pressure on until justice prevails.”

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Industrial Worker – Issue #1764, April 2014

The Industrial Worker is the official (English language) newspaper of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) revolutionary labor union.

http://www.scribd.com/doc/216033460/Industrial-Worker-Issue-1764-April-2014

Headlines:
* Striking Workers At Boston Insomnia Cookies Win Settlement
* Portland IWW Fights Wage Theft
* Indiana IWW Celebrates One Year As A Branch

Features:
* Miami IWW: Fighting Back In High-End Hotels
* Exposed: The Adjunctification Of Higher Education
* Solidarity Unionism In Iceland

IWW Organizer Tasia Edmonds reinstated!

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On Sunday, March 9, just six days after a settlement between Insomnia Cookies and four workers who went on strike last August, the company suspended bicycle delivery “driver” and union organizer Tasia Edmonds. Quick action by the Industrial Workers of the World, which represents Edmonds, the four strikers, and several other area workers, forced the company to reinstate Edmonds. Two dozen IWW members and allies picketed the Boston Insomnia Cookies location, where Edmonds is employed, on Friday, March 14. Organizers planned another rally for Saturday, March 22, after student allies from the abutting Boston University return from Spring Break, but the company capitulated, agreeing on March 20 to bring Edmonds back to work.

Edmonds was disciplined for speaking out against workplace injustices, which the boss called “Insubordination.” According to Edmonds ““I was suspended for my union involvement. I have never been disciplined before. I was not served any paper work detailing why I was suspended. I want to get back to work, and I want back pay for the days I missed.” While Insomnia has reinstated Edmonds, as of press time there is no confirmation that she will receive back pay for time lost during her suspension. The union is prepared to fight to win Edmonds’ lost wages, and to ensure Insomnia Cookies sticks to its promise not to discipline or intimidate workers for union organizing.

Reposted from:

http://iwwboston.org/2014/03/20/iww-organizer-tasia-edmonds-reinstated/

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/

2NITE! 7 PM, FIGHT FOR $15/HR AND A UNION! INSOMNIA COOKIES, 708 COMM AVE, BOSTON

In August, Insomnia Cookies unlawfully fired 4 workers who went on strike. All four had joined the IWW (Industrial Workers of the World, a labor union). The strikers’ demands included $15/hr, health-care, and that the company not interfere with union organizing. A fifth IWW member was fired last month, after disclosing his union affiliation to his manager.

Insomnia employees were earning sub-minimum wages, some making deliveries on their own bikes until 3 a.m. or later, under pressure to ride unsafely, but after a four month campaign by the IWW, Insomnia workers now have more opportunities to take breaks. The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board, a government agency) has also issued a formal complaint against Insomnia for the illegal firings of the IWW strikers, and has set a hearing date.

However, the company continues to pay below minimum wage and does not provide Workers’ Comp benefits, blaming bike delivery workers if they get hurt in traffic. Let’s expose Insomnia’s union-busting and support fast food workers under attack!

We’ll meet this evening (Friday 12/6), starting at 7 pm, at Insomnia Cookies’ Boston location, 708 Comm Ave (BU East stop on the Green Line’s B Train) to picket the store, and let the community know the truth about the company. A short video featuring Insomnia workers explaining why they went on strike and joined the union is here:
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8o-cMS7gjBA

You can also read more about the campaign for justice at Insomnia Cookies on the Boston IWW’s blog at:
http://iwwboston.org/

Please also consider donating to the Insomnia Cookies Workers’ Strike Fund: https://www.wepay.com/donations/insomnia-cookies-workers-strike-fund

If you use Facebook, please share the event for this picket:
https://www.facebook.com/events/189263131262309/189655667889722/?notif_t=like

National Labor Relations Board Rules Against Insomnia Cookies’ Management

The NLRB has decided that the four IWW members who went on strike at Insomnia Cookies in Harvard Square, Cambridge, MA, were illegally fired. The Board has asked Insomnia to provide back pay to all four strikers and to offer reinstatement to the two who remain in the area. The company has not agreed, so the Board may soon issue a formal complaint against the company. While it’s important not to exaggerate the significance of the NLRB’s potential role in the campaign (workers’ solidarity on the shop floor is always the most critical factor), this is good news for the Insomnia Workers’ Union.

Even more importantly, there are reports from inside stores of improvements to working conditions, and a new attention to providing break time, based on our unrelenting pickets and PR offensive. To all who’ve conducted solidarity actions, sent messages of support and donations, helped w/ phone/email zaps, or come to the picket line here in Boston (including facing down the cops!), our collective efforts are beginning to bear fruit, so thank you and please keep it coming!

To contribute to the Insomnia Workers’ Union strike fund, please click here: https://www.wepay.com/donations/1952435343

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/