Tag Archives: Union

Issue #7 of The Cradle of Liberty

27 Apr

Issue 7!
Check out Issue #7 of The Cradle of Liberty, a Newsletter of Mass. Struggles. View it here:
Issue 7

Inside this issue:

-One Year Later, Lawyers, Watertown Residents Discuss Post-Marathon Lockdown

-IWW Union Makes Gains, Continues Drive at Insomnia Cookies

-Wellesley Library Workers Win Contract After Public Campaign

-Violence Strains Boston’s Working Class Neighborhoods

Visit our website to download the Web Version or the Print Version – Print out some copies! http://www.cradleoflibertynews.org/

The Cradle of Liberty is an all volunteer run organization, we invite you to print out some copies on 11×17 paper and help distribute the paper to your friends, co-workers and around your community!


Please consider contributing content to the 8th Issue of the Cradle of Liberty! We’re looking for news articles, photos, and event announcements relevant to the Massachusetts working class community. Email All
Submissions to: CradleofLibertyNews@gmail.com.

**Deadline for Issue # 8 is May 18**

Other ways to help!!!

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Make a Donation:
We are an all volunteer publication, with no funding and no budget, yet we’re attempting to distribute COL for free to the working people of Eastern Massachusetts. Please consider supporting our efforts. Your donation will go to the printing and distribution of future issues. Donate here: https://www.wepay.com/donations/718229579

3 Important Events, Starting Today

12 Mar
Join Black Rose/Rosa Negra at these upcoming events!

Dear Black Rose friends and comrades // Queridxs amigxs y camaradas de Rosa Negra, [español a continuación] It seems like the struggle just won't wait for Spring! Between victories, attacks, and ongoing fights, things are heating up and the snow is finally melting! Please join us in the streets for 3 actions this week and more in the coming weeks. Here are some upcoming actions we will be participating in. Details below. Hope to see you there! // ¡Parece que la lucha simplemente no va esperar hasta la primavera! Entre las victorias, los ataques y las luchas en desarrollo, se está calentando la cosa y por fin la nieve se está derritiendo! Por favor, únanse a nosotrxs en la calle para 3 acciones esta semana y más en las próximas semanas. Les enviamos la información de las próximas actividades en que vamos a estar participando. Detalles a continuación. ¡Esperamos verles ahí! Solidarity // Solidaridad, Black Rose//Rosa Negra - Boston *1) Boston Youth Power March: #YOUTHPASS NOW!* Wednesday, March 12th, 3:30-5:30PM Park Street Station, Boston Sponsored by the Youth Affordabili(T) Coalition<http://youthwayonthembta.org/yac> Facebook event: Boston Youth Power March: #YOUTHPASS NOW!<https://www.facebook.com/events/587024581379104/> The T is a lifeline for youth in Boston. We need a *#YouthPass *and Affordabili(T) NOW! Are you with us?*We call on MBTA General Manager Beverley Scott, MassDOT Secretary of Transportation Richard Davey, & the MassDOT Board:**1) *to protect students in the upcoming fare hike by *exempting student fares from the hike* &/or *adding weekends into the current M5 $25 Student Pass* *2) *to fulfill their promises by using part of *the new State House funding that youth played a key role in securing *to increase equity and begin a *Youth Pass Pilot by Summer 2014* *3) *to make the T more affordable for youth riders by *creating the "Youth Pass" now*! *2) Rally // Manifestación: Bring Them Home! // ¡Traerlos a Casa!* Friday, March 14th, 5:00-6:30PM JFK Federal Building, Government Center, Boston Sponsored by: Bring Them Home - Boston<https://www.facebook.com/bringbackboston>, Resist the Raids <https://www.facebook.com/resisttheraids> Facebook event: Rally // Manifestación: Bring Them Home! // ¡Traerlos a Casa! <https://www.facebook.com/events/293635940787435/> [español abajo] Starting on Monday, March 10th, 150 people crossed the US/México border, demanding to the right to go home to their respective communities in the United States. These brave folks used direct action to reunite with their families and send a strong message to the Obama administration that we will no longer tolerate deportations and forced displacement! Please come show solidarity with the Reform 150, including local participants, Ines Vargas and Alberto Peniche! They need community support to pressure ICE to release them from detention and allow them to return home. Will you join us?? // Comenzando el lunes, 10 de marzo, 150 personas cruzaron la frontera entre los Estados Unidos y México, exigiendo el derecho a regresar a casa a sus comunidades respectivas en los Estados Unidos. Esta gente valiente usó la acción directa para reunir con sus familias y enviar un mensaje fuerte a la administración de Obama que ¡ya no vamos a soportar más deportaciones ni el desplazamiento forzado! Por favor, venga a mostrar la solidaridad con los "Reforma 150," incluyendo los participantes locales, Ines Vargas y Alberto Peniche! Se necesita el apoyo comunitario para presionar a la migra (ICE) a soltarlos de la detención y dejarlos regresar a casa. ¿Se unirá a nosotros? *3) Emergency Picket for Suspended Insomnia Cookies Worker!* Friday, March 14th, 7:00PM Insomnia Cookies, 708 Commonwealth Ave, Boston Sponsored by: IWW - Boston GMB <http://iwwboston.org> Facebook event: Emergency Picket! + Phone, Email Zap! Fight Union-busting!<https://www.facebook.com/events/604465696296628> Insomnia Cookies has suspended IWW organizer Tasia Edmonds without pay for a month, falsely claiming she was "unprofessional" and neglected to server her any formal written notice. You're invited to take action against union-busting by the boutique cookie business. Join the IWW and our allies as we picket in support of Tasia! Please also email the company at pfs@serveubrands.com, and call CEO Seth Berkowitz at (877)632-6654. Suggested message: "It is intolerable that IWW organizer Tasia Edmonds be suspended without pay for her union activity. Please take immediate action to bring Tasia back to work, and compensate her for any loss in pay. Union-busting is disgusting!" Background: Tasia went public with her union affiliation on December 7. She has been building the union in her store. In February, a new manager began harrassing her about her union membership. On March 9, Tasia was told she has been suspended without pay for a month! The union is filing Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). An organizing drive began at Insomnia in August after four workers spontaneously went on strike. Their demands included $15/hr, health care and a union. They were immediately fired. Despite recently promising to give about $4,000 in back pay to the strikers and to post a notice in the store pledging not to retaliate against workers for union activity, Insomnia is apparently still determined to crush the union drive. The union is even more determined to get justice for Tasia and all workers at Insomnia!

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:


Service Workers Forum tomorrow!

10 Dec

Hey all,

   I’m helping to plan this event below for tomorrow night with some comrades at BU Student Labor Action Project and the IWW. It should be awesome, please come check it out if you’re in town!



Resistance with Dignity! Service and Low Income Workers’ Forum
7pm, Wednesday, December 11th,
At Boston University, in the College of Arts and Sciences room 201.
685 Commonwealth Avenue, Boston, MA.


Since the onset of the Great Recession in 2008, the cost of living has risen and corporate profits increased, while minimum wage and other industry standards for low-wage workers have remained the same. Even worse, many employers use the recession to demand concessions and rollbacks from their workers.

Yet across the Boston area, workers in a variety of industries are fighting back. From hotels to restaurants, workers are organizing to demand pay increases, benefits, and union recognition. Come hear from workers struggling in these industries as they share their stories. Participate in a discussion with us about union organizing and shop-floor struggles.


Rosa de la Rosa – Le Meridien Hotel

Tasia Edmonds – Insomnia Cookies, BU

Cris Barros – Mass. Uniting (Former KFC worker)

Jonathan Peña – Insomnia Cookies, Harvard

Hosted by the Boston University Student Labor Action Project and the Boston Industrial Workers of the World


Strikers Deliver Demands to Insomnia Cookies; Company Targets Union Member

27 Oct

(Article first appeared at CradleofLibertyNews.org. For photos, check iwwboston.org)


Strikers Deliver Demands to Insomnia Cookies; Company Targets Union Member

By Jake Carman

On Thursday, October 24th, striking workers delivered a demand letter to the Harvard Square location of Insomnia Cookies. Niko Stapczynski and Jonathan Peña—who were fired after declaring a strike with two other employees on August 18th—and fifty members of their union, the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), visited the late-night cookie chain at 10 P.M. In their letter to management, the workers demanded reinstatement with back pay, compensation for nearly $1000 in short paychecks and withheld lunch breaks, company neutrality to the union and a card check election, and an end to the practice of forcing employees to sign a non-disclosure agreement. The union is threatening to turn these demands into legal charges if Insomnia fails to respond within two weeks.

Also on October 24th, Insomnia baker Tommy Mendes, who still works at the Harvard Square Insomnia location, declared to management that he, too, had joined the IWW. Mendes sent an email to his boss, simply stating “I just wanted to let you know that I’m a member of the Industrial Workers of the World.” While Mendes joined the IWW soon after his coworkers began their strike, according to the union, he only recently “made the courageous decision to go public and has announced his union affiliation to his manager…in part due to intolerable pressure and threats on the job.” The company suspended Mendes immediately, and the union promises to fight what they call “unlawful retaliation for his union activity.”

The public struggle at Insomnia Cookies in Harvard Square began at midnight on August 18, when the entire four-person night shift voted to initiate a strike for higher wages, healthcare, and freedom to form a union. Peña, Mendes, and coworkers Chris Helali and Luke Robinson—who have since moved out of state—closed the shop, contacted the IWW, and began holding pickets and building connections with Harvard and BU student organizations. Pickets have since spread to the new Boston University store.

Workers claim Insomnia has a bad track record when it comes to following labor laws and fairly compensating their employees. According to the demand letter, “For months prior to the strike, workers employed as ‘drivers,’ had not received minimum wage. Also, employees often did not receive the 30 minute meal break for shifts longer than 6 hours, to which they are entitled by MA State Law.” Drivers, who deliver cookies by bicycle until 3 A.M., and rely on tips to pad their $5 and hour wage, complain the company has unrealistic expectations of delivery times, and pressure from management causes unsafe riding and accidents. Whats worse, according to the union, “Insomnia does not give paid time off when drivers get hurt on the job, and instead blame them for the accidents.” The company doesn’t offer health benefits to the workers either.

Before the strike, the average turnover rate for a local Insomnia employee was only three weeks. The droves of Boston-area Insomnia workers who have recently quit the job, as well as the firing of the company’s regional manager—in part due to his inability to keep his stores staffed and functioning—attest to the aptly-named Insomnia work environment. Insomnia, which has 33 locations on college campuses across the US, sustains itself only by exploiting students two-fold: as employees, where they are underpaid, barely trained, easily-replaceable, and overworked, and also as consumers, where they are sold frozen cookies at unjustifiably high prices. In order to hold Insomnia accountable and to end the company’s reprehensible labor practices, IWW members are encouraging workers nationally to join the union, and if they are planning to quit already, to go on strike.

Ways to Get Involved:


-Dont Quit, Strike! http://iwwboston.files.wordpress.com/2013/10/dont-quit-strike.jpg


-Donate to the Insomnia Strike Fund:



-Sign the petition to support the strikers’ demands:



-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/



Rally to Support Insomnia Strikers!

21 Aug

Tomorrow, Rally at 6pm in Harvard Square!
https://www.facebook.com/insomniaunion       https://iwwboston.org

Striking Workers at Insomnia Cookies Demand Higher Wages, Benefits, and a Union! All strikers have been illegally fired for their pro-union efforts, and have joined the Industrial Workers of the World. They need your help to win!

 Schedule for Tomorrow (Thursday, August 22)
12noon – Picket Begins at the Harvard Square location, 65 Mt Auburn St  Cambridge, MA 02138.

2pm – Sign and banner making for the evening rally (come to picket to participate in sign-making.) Bring materials if you can.

6pm – Rally! Meet near the main entrance of the Harvard Square T stop. We will march to Insomnia. Bring everybody you can!

At 12:00 am on Sunday, August 18, the night shift at the Harvard Square Insomnia Cookies voted to initiate a strike for higher wages, healthcare, and freedom to build a union. Insomnia Cookies, with around 30 locations in the Northeast and Midwest, caters to college students and runs late night deliveries of warm cookies and milk to dorm rooms. Still delivering cookies until 2:45 am, Insomnia workers who double-duty as bakers and cashiers receive only 9$ an hour, while “drivers,” who are expected to deliver cookies by bicycle within a half hour, receive only 5$ an hour plus tips. Neither receive healthcare, at a job where turnover is so high, the typical employee lasts only one month. Insomnia workers have had enough, and they need your help if they can win their jobs back and achieve their goals.

Insomnia strikers have all joined the Industrial Workers of the World, and the workers and their union have held pickets for the last four days at the Harvard Square location, 65 Mt Auburn St  Cambridge, MA 02138.

Check the Boston IWW website, or the Insomnia Union facebook for updates: http://iwwboston.org/   https://www.facebook.com/insomniaunion