Tag Archives: Boston

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
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.”

Help Jake and the Infernal Machine raise funds to release a new album!

11 Mar

I play with a band called Jake and the Infernal Machine. We are almost ready to release a new 15 song album, but we’re trying to raise money to get it mastered.

Support Jake and the Infernal Machine through Indiegogo – Click here!

Below is a preview of one of these upcoming tracks, “6th of December.” Enjoy!


Insomnia Workers End Strike with Settlement, Declare Victory

4 Mar

Insomnia Workers End Strike with Settlement, Declare Victory

For Immediate Release

March 4, 2014.

Contacts: Geoff Carens, (Organizer) 617 803 4221, geoff.carens@gmail.com

Jonathan Peña, (Striker) 857 200 5575, jonathanfpena@gmail.com

The Industrial Workers of the World (Union) 617 863 7920, iww.boston@riseup.net

…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 union member and Insomnia Cookies Striker.

On March 4th, 2014, Insomnia Cookies settled National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) charges with four workers who were fired after going on strike in August 2013 for changes at work, including unionization. The workers, Chris Helali, Jonathan Peña, Niko Stapczynski, and Luke Robinson, members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), have voted to accept the deal. The strikers will receive backpay totaling over $4000 and have their terminations rescinded from their records. Insomnia Cookies will hang a poster in their Harvard Square store stating that the company is union-neutral and will not fire workers for union activity. The settlement comes the day before a scheduled NLRB hearing between with company and the workers over charges that the company illegally fired the workers for protected union activity.

The four workers, who comprised the entire night shift at the Harvard Square Insomnia Cookies on the night of August 19th, decided to strike for “$15 an hour, benefits, and to organize a union.” For the next six months the strikers, other IWW members, allies, and student organizations at both Harvard and Boston University held pickets, marches, rallies, forums, phone blitzes, and ran a boycott campaign, while workers continued organizing inside the two area locations.

“Since the first utterance of the word ‘strike’ that late August night, it has been an uphill battle for all of us,” said 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 I. 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 union 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.”

More details of the strike and quotes from the union can be obtained at:


Radicalizing Reality Forum: Resisting Walls & Bars

28 Feb

Radicalizing Reality Forum: Resisting Walls & Bars

Hey friends, check out this event tomorrow that our anarchist group is holding:

Saturday March 1 2014
1:00 pm – 3:00 pm
Community Church of Boston
565 Boylston Street, Copley Square, Boston, MA
617-356-ROSA (7672)
Facebook Event Page

Wheelchair Accessible / Childcare & Spanish Interpretation Upon Request

Join us for Part II of the Radicalizing Reality: Resisting Walls & Bars study group to analyze criminalization, migration, displacement, and strategies of resistance! Across the Americas and the globe, we are seeing rising struggles against enclosure and for freedom of movement or the right to remain. Communities are pushing back against displacement and uniting to stop deportations, prisoners are striking for freedom and dignity, migrant youth are sustaining a growing movement, and Native peoples are resisting exploitation of sovereign land. We can see a new world emerging in these acts of defiance and solidarity. Through these readings, videos, and comics, we hope to work towards both an understanding of the capitalist strategy of criminalization and a decolonial approach to fighting back.

What models do we see being used to fight criminalization/displacement, and who are the communities leading struggle? How do these struggles intersect? What local equivalent of stop and frisk, gang injunctions do we see? How do we see gentrification and border imperialism manifesting in Boston? How does the State uphold and justify narratives of criminalization and disempowerment? Where are strategic points of intervention? What kind of change are we fighting for, and how do we build inclusive resistance throughout? Join us for a participatory conversation on these and other questions in Part II of the Radicalizing Reality series.

Reading list:
Abolicionismo (Texto Introductorio) by Cruz Negra Anarquista
Apuntes Sobre la Organizacion Carcelaria by Cruz Negra Anarquista
Building a Solidarity Network in Houston by Unity & Struggle
Southwest Defense Network Website
No Keystone Pipeline Will Cross Lakota Lands statement from Honor the Earth, the Oglala Sioux Nation, Owe Aku, and Protect the Sacred
The Criminalization of Poverty in Capitalist America by political prisoner Jalil Muntaqim
Spirit & Nation by Yosimar Reyes
“Activist Immigrants Hurting Their Case, Lawyer Says” article by Julián Aguilar from Texas Tribune
Stop-and-Frisk As a Weapon of Gentrification by Glen Ford
Undoing Border Imperialism (introduction pages 4-20) by Harsha Walia

Dede’s Story by Who You Callin’ Illegal? (8 min 38 sec) English
Fenced Out by FIERCE! (6 min 3 sec) English
Gang Injunctions, Racism and Gentrification in Oakland, CA by Black Agenda report (11 min 7 sec) English
Stop the Injunction! by Critical Resistance (7 min 32 sec) English
Movement for Justice in El Barrio: Fighting Gentrification (9 min 9 sec) Spanish with English subtitles.
Evaluarán Proyecto Contra Inmigrantes”> by WUNTV (2 min 12 sec) Spanish

Liberty for All #4 by Julio Salgado & Tina Vasquez English


Issue 6 out now!

11 Feb

Issue 6 out now!

In this issue:
-Boston Union News Roundup
-Minimum Wage Hikes
-Immigrant Detainees Continue Struggle for Rights at South Bay
-Sergio Reyes’ birthday and fund-raising event From Punta Arenas to Boston: 60 years of struggle

Last Wednesday’s talk

5 Feb

Just wanted to say thanks to the folks who came to my talk last week at the Center for Marxist Education. It was good time, and for the last bulk of the evening we had a great conversation about our experiences during the Occupy Boston encampment, the relationships of our political organizations, unions, and other pre-existing groups to the (then) new Occupy Boston general assemblies and working groups. That the participants came from a variety places on the Boston left and were open to comradely dialogue made for a really interesting and enlightening discussion. Unfortunately we didn’t film it, but hopefully we’ll continue this conversation,



Tuesday: From Student Power to Popular Power

26 Jan

Tuesday: From Student Power to Popular Power

An International Panel with Speakers from Boston, Quebec and Chile. Tuesday, January 28, 2014, 6pm at the Community Church of Boston, 565 Boylston St.

Facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/586122191464180/?source=1

Hosted by Black Rose Anarchist Federation