Submitted on Wed, 04/24/2013 - 6:53pm
MINNEAPOLIS-- After an investigation into the incident, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has decided that IWW Sisters Camelot Canvass Union (SCCU) member ShugE Mississippi was illegally fired by Sisters' Camelot. The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) is a government agency in charge of investigating charges of federal labor law violations, enforcing such laws, and following through with related penalties. After making this decision, the NLRB offered the Sisters' Camelot managing collective one last chance to accept a settlement agreement before setting a court-date to seek a court order.
The settlement offered by the NLRB includes the immediate rehiring of ShugE Mississippi, paying back wages, and posting a public apology at Sisters’ Camelot. The managing collective has until Tuesday, April 23 to accept this offer. If this settlement offer is not accepted, the NLRB will set a court date and seek a binding order from a judge. If this case is brought before a judge it will significantly increase the legal expenditure for Sisters’ Camelot, as it would be responsible for associated attorney’s fees. Further, Sisters’ Camelot would be obligated to pay even more back wages as more time passes-- a likely possibility as judges typically respect decisions made by the NLRB.
In the interest of giving the Sisters' Camelot managing collective space to think through this decision, the SCCU asks individuals who were planning a nonviolent sit-in demonstration at Monday's collective meeting to cancel any such plans. The public is always welcome to attend Sisters' Camelot's collective meetings, and any individual who wants to observe or engage in respectful dialogue on Monday should feel free to do so. However, the union is explicitly canceling plans of civil disobedience or disruption of and kind, and asks that people please respect that decision so the collective can have healthy discussion about this very important decision.
“This is exciting and encouraging to hear. Once this issue is fixed then we will be one step closer to ending this strike through negotiation with our entire union represented at the bargaining table,” stated Alex Forsey, one of the striking IWW Sisters' Camelot Canvass Union members.
The campaign at Sisters Camelot represents a new step for Food and Retail Workers United, an organizing committee of the Industrial Workers of the World labor union. Gaining prominence in recent years for organizing Starbucks and Jimmy Johns workers, the IWW is a global union founded over a century ago for all working people.
Submitted on Fri, 03/01/2013 - 4:26pm
CLICK HERE to donate to the Sisters' Camelot Strike Fund
MINNEAPOLIS, MN -- Canvass workers at Sisters Camelot, a non-profit mobile food shelf and soup kitchen, have gone on strike today after the organization’s managing collective refused to negotiate with the canvass union. The workers went public as members of the Industrial Workers of the World on Monday, and met to negotiate with the collective this morning. This unionization comes after months of organizing among the workers in response to changes in the workplace, resulting in a decline in conditions and mismanagement of the worker’s time and the organization’s resources.
The strike began this afternoon at 12:30PM when the managing collective announced that they were unwilling to negotiate on any demands. The workers are now prepared to continue the strike by refusing to canvass door-to-door or conduct fundraising efforts until the collective comes back to the table ready to meet the workers’ demands.
“It’s deeply disappointing that the collective isn’t willing to take the demands of its workers seriously,” said Maria Wesserle, a canvass worker, “The last thing we wanted in this situation was to be pushed to the point of a strike.”
Canvassers at Sisters Camelot are employed as independent contractors. Workers began organizing with the IWW after a restructuring of the organization’s door-to-door fundraising operation left workers with increased work stress and less control over conditions. They are demanding that management positions in the canvass program be replaced with coordinators elected by the workers, and that hiring and firing be conducted by a worker committee. In addition, workers are asking for better conditions such as sick pay and medical coverage of job injuries, as well as common sense items such as more frequent training and regular repair of work vehicles.
Submitted on Sun, 07/08/2012 - 10:48pm
By Juan Conatz - The Organizer, June 8, 2012
In the IWW, we sometimes have to deal with two different problems: How do we approach situations where we have left our job (but still have a problem with our employer) and how do we deal with harassment and assault in the workplace?
Wobblies in Seattle have taken on the first question. Wanting to build organizing skills and fight back against bosses and landlords in their area, they started the Seattle Solidarity Network (‘SeaSol’).
SeaSol is a network of volunteers, open to workers both employed and unemployed, that takes on workplace and housing fights through a strategy of escalation of tactics. For instance, a tenant is denied their security deposit. Attempts to contact the landlord are ignored or delayed. SeaSol will march in with 30 people and hand the landlord a demand letter telling them to give the renter their deposit in a certain amount of time or else. If the landlord doesn’t give in, pickets will follow, and so on.
Harassment and assault in the workplace is something that has been less thought about by union organizers or the left in general, even less than the fights SeaSol typically takes on. Some of us in the union have briefly addressed sexual harassment on shopfloor, but it’s still an ongoing conversation. Seemingly not talked about at all is the issue of assault, sexual or otherwise. During the 1990s (the latest period with statistics I could easily find), there was an average of 35,000 incidents of workplace sexual assault each year.
What should be our response when this happens? What can our response be? In the following situation, these two problems intersected, and Wobblies came up with a way to address it.
Submitted on Wed, 05/23/2012 - 9:42pm
By Elijah Marks - The Organizer May 16, 2012
The celebration of International Workers’ Day in the Twin Cities brought together many groups organizing around various struggles. The resurgent Occupy movement has injected new energy into the holiday.
Local organizing coalesced in an Occupy May 1st Twin Cities group, planning for a day of action around ‘no work, no school’ and a ‘day without the 99%’ For months leading up to the action, they met weekly at the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW)’s office to coordinate with other groups, plan events for the day, and make and spread posters and leaflets.
The mutual aid ethos of the wider Occupy movement was demonstrated through Occuprint, an offshoot of Occupy Wall Street in New York City, who helped with May 1st publicity in the Twin Cities—and other cities across the country—by distributing hundreds of high-quality, large-format posters and newspapers. Additionally, local designers created their own innovative designs, such as the following poster:
Another form of circulation of common media across the country was a zine with an illustrated history of May Day. During the meet-up at the beginning of the day, I found this zine to be a useful means for meeting new people and sparking conversations. Talking about this history made us feel connected with the tradition of struggle for immigrants’ and workers’ rights, such as the 8-hour workday, that most people take for granted, and seeing that nothing will be gained—and much could be lost—without continued militant struggle.
Submitted on Tue, 04/24/2012 - 8:25pm
MINNEAPOLIS- Picket lines will popped up around Jimmy John's at noon today as sandwich workers and supporters from Occupy Minneapolis and local labor unions sought to persuade franchise owners Mike and Rob Mulligan to comply with a judge's order to reinstate six workers illegally fired for blowing the whistle on company policies which expose customers to sandwiches made by sick workers. Although an NLRB judge ruled on Friday that the workers must be offered reinstatement within 14 days, federal labor law allows employers to illegally fire workers and then drag out appeals for years with minimal penalties.
"The dysfunction of US labor law means that crime pays for bosses in America. We are calling on Mike and Rob Mulligan to do the right thing and abide by the court order, rather than delay justice by pouring more money into a losing legal battle," said Max Specktor, one of the fired workers.
According to the judge's ruling, Jimmy John's workers can be disciplined if they call in sick without finding a substitute. A union survey revealed that this policy, in conjunction with minimum-wage workers' inability to afford to take a day off, result in an average of two workers making sandwiches while sick every day at the Minneapolis franchise of the chain. Minnesota Department of Health reports document three outbreaks of foodborne illness in the past five years at the franchise, due in part to sick workers.
Workers at Jimmy John's then began campaigning for the right to call in sick and paid sick days in January 2011. Despite the clear risk to public health of workers making sandwiches while ill, franchise owners Mike and Rob Mulligan stonewalled employee requests for sick day policy reform for more than two months, prompting union supporters to take their message to the public by posting 3000 copies of a poster explaining that workers are forced to make sandwiches while sick. Mike and Rob Mulligan lashed out in retaliation, firing six workers and disciplining others. On the witness stand, Mike Mulligan admitted under oath that he had fired the six workers because he perceived them as the "leaders and developers" of a unionization effort. Mulligan's credibility was further eroded when he testified to intentionally lying about the franchise's food safety record to the press.