Days After Settlement, Pickets Return to Insomnia Cookies

16 Mar

Days After Settlement, Pickets Return to Insomnia Cookies

by Jake Carman

 

Picket lines have returned to Insomnia Cookies, less than two weeks after the company settled with four workers who struck in August of 2013. On Friday March 14, two dozen union members and supporters rallied in front of the Boston location of Insomnia Cookies, demanding the reinstatement with back pay of union organizer and bicycle delivery “driver,” Tasia Edmonds. On March 9 the company suspended Edmonds without pay for a month, alleging insubordination, while the union maintains she was disciplined for her union-building efforts.

 

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), of which Edmonds is a member, claims the company violated the terms of the recent settlement, in which Insomnia Cookies promised “WE WILL NOT fire you or take any other action against you because you engage in protected activities with your fellow employees that concern your wages, hours and working conditions, including a strike.” The union filed new charges against the company with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) on Wednesday, March 12, and launched a phone and email blitz of the company.

 

At the March 14 picket, workers and allies held signs, sangs songs, and handed out fliers demanding the company bring back Edmonds, make up for any lost wages, and uphold the promises outlined in the recent settlement. Edmonds addressed the rally, speaking about life working at Insomnia Cookies, while the manager who suspended her and a new security guard subcontracted through Securitas glowered down from the window above. Alberto Giorgio Peniche, from Boston Resist the Raids, also spoke, expressing his solidarity with Insomnia and other fast food workers and drawing the connection with the struggles of undocumented workers.

 

After almost two hours of rallying, the IWW promised to return with double the numbers, unless Edmonds is reinstated. “Are you tired of having us in your face?” they chanted. “Then get some justice in this place!” The union is planning another rally for next week, when student allies at Boston University, which abuts the Commonwealth Avenue Insomnia location, return from spring break.

 

“I believe I was suspended for my union involvement,” says Edmonds, a twenty-two-year-old who has worked for the company four and a half months. “I have never been disciplined before. I was not served any paperwork detailing why I was suspended. A few days after my suspension, the company even called me to ask for my story, as if they were asking me why they suspended me and didn’t even know themselves.” Edmonds went public with her union affiliation on December 7, 2013. In February, according to the union, a new manager began harassing her about her union membership.

Tasia Edmonds speaks at a picket outside of the Boston University Insomnia Cookies Location. The manager that suspended her and a guard hired from Securitas glower down from the window above. Photo by Jake Carman
Tasia Edmonds speaks at a picket outside of the Boston University Insomnia Cookies Location. The manager that suspended her and a guard hired from Securitas glower down from the window above. Photo by Jake Carman
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March 14 Picket at Boston University Insomnia Cookies. Photo by Jake Carman.

 

 

“I believe the disciplinary action they are taking against me is excessive and unfair,” Edmonds says. “I want to get back to work, and I want back pay for the days I missed.”

 

According to the union, “Insomnia Cookies continues to violate the law by intimidating employees with threats and disciplinary actions to discourage union organizing. We call on Insomnia Cookies to uphold the terms of the recent settlement, bring back Tasia and pay her for any wages lost during her suspension, and to allow Insomnia workers to continue their efforts to improve working conditions through legally-protected unionizing efforts.”

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