Tag Archives: workers

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!

http://www.CradleofLibertyNews.org

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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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

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Insomnia Cookies Strikers win Settlement

6 Mar

Insomnia Cookies Strikers win Settlement.

By Jake Carman

 

On March 3rd Insomnia Cookies and four striking workers agreed to a settlement of National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) charges, officially ending a six month strike. The four workers, Chris Helali, Jonathan Peña, Niko Stapczynski, and Luke Robinson, struck on August 18, 2013, demanding changes at work, including higher pay, benefits, and unionization, and were fired immediately. According to the terms of the settlement, they will all receive backpay, totaling close to $4000, and have their terminations rescinded from their records. Insomnia Cookies will post a notice in their Harvard Square store promising not to fire or otherwise retaliate against workers for union activity, including going on strike. Additionally, Insomnia revised a confidentiality agreement, which improperly restricted workers’ rights to discuss their conditions of employment with one another and third parties (including union organizers and the media).

 

According to organizers for the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the labor union representing the strikers, “This settlement is another small victory in a long struggle to bring justice and a union to Insomnia Cookies.”

 

When the four workers, comprising the entire night shift at the Harvard Square Insomnia Cookies, voted unanimously to close the store after midnight on August 18, 2013, they served cookies to the customers already in line, then locked the doors. They put protest signs in the windows, wrote up a strike agreement and informed their boss they were striking for a raise, health and other benefits, and a union.

 

Jonathan Peña, one of the strikers, remembers “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.”

 

The following morning they returned to set up a picket line, and reached out to the IWW, which sent union organizers to help. Within the first few days, all four were fired, and all four signed union cards. 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 a boycott, while workers continued organizing at both the Cambridge and Boston locations. The union also pursued legal charges through the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB). The March 3rd settlement comes two days before a scheduled NLRB hearing on the charges.

 

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

 

Other outstanding issue remain unresolved between workers and the company. Wages, benefits, break-time, scheduling, safety, “independent contractor” status of delivery workers, the November 2013 firing of IWW member and Insomnia baker Tommy Mendez, and police violence against a picket line and resultant charges against IWW member Jason Freedman, top the list of grievances.

 

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 with unified voices and actions.”

 

But for now, union members are celebrating. Peña says, “Being a part 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.”

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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

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!

             -Jake

 

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.

https://www.facebook.com/events/180152515517277/?context=create#

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.

Speakers:

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

https://www.facebook.com/events/180152515517277/?context=create#

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!

Background:
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

The Republic Workers Remind Us That Direct Action Gets the Goods

17 Dec

The Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement Newsletter, Issue # 16 – December 2008

 

 

At a time when big business is begging the government for big-money bail-outs and getting them, while workers get laid off and tenants and home owners get evicted, the employees of the Republic Windows and Doors factory in Chicago have taken matters into their own hands. And they have won. On December 5, 2008, following the announcement that the factory, which employs 300 people, would close in three days, 250 workers began a sit-down strike that may serve as a catalyst for a renaissance of working-class resistance throughout the United States. Republic CEO Rich Gillman informed the workers that although Bank of America recently received a $25 billion bailout, they were pulling their loan from the factory. As a result, Gillman gave his employees three days notice of the closure of Republic—well short of the 60 days notice required by federal law.

Facing the grim prospect of joining millions of others on the unemployment line, the workers, members of the United Electrical Workers (UE) Local 1110, refused to leave. They conducted a sit-down strike and took over the factory. The occupation lasted five days, and quickly won attention from the media, politicians, and others, and shamed Bank of America back to the bargaining table.

Well-known activist Reverend Jesse Jackson brought food to the workers and said, “These workers are to this struggle perhaps what Rosa Parks was to social justice 50 years ago… This, in many ways, is the beginning of a larger movement for mass action to resist economic violence.”

President-elect Barack Obama also offered his support. “When it comes to the situation here in Chicago” he said, “with the workers who are asking for their benefits and payments they have earned, I think they are absolutely right . . . what’s happening to them is reflective of what’s happening across this economy.”

On December 9, Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich came out with a statement that his state’s government would boycott Bank of America until the loan to Republic was reinstated. The next morning, however, the FBI arrested the Governor for alleged corruption. As a result, the media that had gathered at the Republic factory left to cover the Governor’s arrest. All the cars on the street outside of the factory were towed. Workers inside issued a call in fear of a raid on their plant. The raid, however, never came.

The politicians and corporate media were not the only ones paying attention. According to Giuseppe, an eyewitness to the occupation, “there is definitely an increased sense of class consciousness…other workers have been inspired.” He also said that mainstream unions, which had previously shunned the UE, have pledged to use similar tactics. Republic workers have vowed to offer the same kind of solidarity and support they received to others struggling in the future.

After only five days of the occupation, the media attention, and the resulting public outcry, Bank of America agreed to reinstate some of its loan, along with $400,000 from JP Morgan Chase. According to Chicago Independent Media Center, “late Wednesday night…more than 200 workers and members of UE Local 1110 voted unanimously to accept a $1.75 million settlement that includes eight weeks of back pay, two months of continued health coverage, and compensation for unused vacation time.” “We fought to make them pay what they owe us, and we won,” said Local 1110 representatives.

Republic has stated that it will not reopen the plant, and neither will the landlord, the Mars Candy Corporation. According to Giuseppe, the union “has created the Windows of Opportunities Fund to raise money to buy the factory, which would make it essentially worker-managed. There hasn’t been discussion about what that would look like.”

As embattled Boston City Councilor Chuck Turner said in an interview, “The workers in Chicago are showing us the way…We see them stand up and say `If them, why not us.’ That’s the nature of evolutionary/revolutionary change.” Just like the Chicago workers who led the 1880s movement that won us the eight-hour day, the workers of the Republic Windows and Doors factory are an example to the rest of us. The government is willing to use our tax dollars to help the richest CEOs keep their companies, but when it comes to defending what is ours–our jobs, our homes, our communities, and our futures–the only way to win is to band together and fight back.

Remembering the Angelica Strike

10 Dec

In remembrance of the victorious strike that began three years ago today.

Angelica Workers Win Strike

The Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement Newsletter, Issue # 29 – January 2010

After a five day strike beginning on December 10, 2009, the largely immigrant workforce of Angelica Textile Services in Somerville won a new contract with benefits and higher wages. Angelica, a billion dollar company with over five thousand workers nationally, counting on its board the likes of Jeb Bush (George’s brother and former Governor of Florida) had stalled negotiations with the Somerville workers. The workers, members of the United Food and Commercial Workers Union Local 1445, were asking for a one dollar wage increase, more company contribution to the healthcare plan, and an extra dime an hour for the pension plan. They voted to strike on December 1. As Local 1445 representative Fernando Lemus told the Boston Globe, they were willing to “sacrifice this Christmas” because “the cost of living is so high.”

Five days later, the company offered a new contract. Hundreds of workers and supporters from other unions and Centro Presente (an immigrant workers center across the street from Angelica) had maintained picket lines from 6 A.M. until midnight. The workers voted to sign the contract, ending their strike and declaring victory. Supporting unions, according to the Party for Socialism and Liberation, included: “the International Union of Painters and Allied Trades District Council 35; the International Brotherhood of Operating Engineers, Local 877 Area Trades Council; the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, Local 2222; the American Federation of Government Employees; Unite Here, Local 26; and the Teamsters, Local 25.” Along with the outpouring of support, Local 1445’s impressive unity and resistance to the bosses’ attempts to divide them contributed to the overwhelming victory.

 

From “Nine Years of Anarchist Agitation: The History of the Boston Anti-Authoritarian Movement and Other Essays” by Jake Carman