Oregon Canvassers Workers Push for Unionization at Union-Funded Workplace

Seven workers and union activists head toward the office on September 17, just before the morning shift begins, debating how to enter. Should they all parade in together? What if lower management is out front smoking before the shift begins? Should they go in early, or wait until the day’s canvassers are already inside?

They agree to head in together in a show of solidarity, a few minutes before the bell rings. As the workers file in the front door, their union representatives in tow, management declares that outside people are not allowed to enter during business hours.

“Don’t worry, we won’t be long,” says Jonathan Steiner, a rep for the United Campaign Workers, a project of the Industrial Workers of the World Workers. The workers and their union representatives enter and declare there is announcement to be made: They have joined a union and are inviting other workers to join them.

Read the FULL STORY at In These Times

Street Canvassing for Good Causes: The Worst Job in Town?

Outside of coffee shops and bookstores, crowded Whole Foods stores and worker-run co-ops nationwide, you‘re bound to find canvassers asking for donations or signatures in support of a host of causes. They’re often young people shaking the can for high-profile nonprofits. But as we get deeper into the post-crash precarious economy, the image of canvassers as idealistic college students making a few extra bucks on summer break quickly disintegrates. People are turning to this occupation as their primary source of income, according to many active campaigners. They are hired by independently contracted companies to canvas for nonprofits. The quotas are demanding, making the work one of the most difficult low-wage jobs to hold on to.

In Portland, Oregon, one union local as formed precisely to take on this precarious world of street canvassing, and they are growing at a pace no one could have predicted.

Last week, the United Campaign Workers union, an affiliate of the Portland Industrial Workers of the World, announced its second organized workplace in its less than two months of existence. (The first was the Campaign for the Restoration and Regulation of Hemp.)

Read the full story here.

Starbucks Workers Union Releases Critical Report on Starbucks


Contact: Sarah Madden, Sarah.starbucksworkersunion@gmail.com

August 12, 2014

Starbucks Workers Union Releases Critical Report on Starbucks

Company Enriches Shareholders While Maintaining Inadequate Working Conditions

NEW YORK, NY – The Industrial Workers of the World, Starbucks Workers Union released a report today, “Low Wages and Grande Profits at Starbucks” with an analysis of company performance over the last decade. The report describes how Starbucks has dramatically improved profitability at the company since the Great Recession of 2008-2009, and that the company has enriched shareholders at the expense of its nearly 200,000 workers.

The report finds that “an analysis of company performance and staffing before and after the Great Recession of 2008-2009 shows that the stores are now staffed at a lower level, workers are working harder, and they are bringing in much more profit for the company. Instead of funding a living wage for workers, the company has transferred almost $4 billion to shareholders in the past few years, equivalent to over $3 per hour for every worker at the company.”

At a time when retail and fast food workers are organizing for higher wages and the right to organize a union, the working conditions at Starbucks remain inadequate for its “partners” to support a family. Despite the company’s reputation for social responsibility, barista wages are often below the $9.00/hour national median wage. Many workers also lack access to affordable health care, with less than half of the workers participating in the company health plan. There is also erratic scheduling and inadequate hours, with many workers assigned only 20-30 hours per week.

The report calls on the company to compensate its workers with a living wage, ensure better store staffing and scheduling, and respect the workers’ rights to organize a union. Starbucks CEO Howard Schultz has expressed support for a federal minimum wage increase, but he has the ability to raise wages dramatically for workers at the company now.

Former Starbucks workers Sarah Madden states “The wages and hours at Starbucks result in poverty level compensation, and consistent and stable scheduling is important for workers. Companies like Starbucks claim to offer ’flexible scheduling’ as a benefit of employment. This means workers are given 7 to 1 day notice for their work times and hours vary week to week, making it nearly impossible to schedule doctor’s appointments, plan for childcare, get and keep a second job or internship and maintain a budget.”

The report can be found here.

WORKED Discussion Nights

WORKED Discussion Nights are a space for workers* to learn, share and act. Come share struggles and successes, learn from peers and allies, and strategize ways to take action on our dreams of fair and democratic workplaces.
Back Stage Bar – 3702 SE Hawthorne Boulevard
Kimball Room on the 3rd Floor

Three different Discussion Nights include:

  • May 29 – Office Space: Surviving the Modern Workplace
  • June 12 – Serving the Community: Work in the Nonprofit and Public Sector
  • June 26 – Precarious Life: Internships, Temp Work, and Underemployment

Free food and drinks!

RSVP here to let us know that you can make it to any of the WORKED Discussion Nights.

*Work doesn’t always get a paycheck! Students, interns, and volunteer and unemployed workers are encouraged to join the conversation. To build a space for all workers, we ask that employers and supervisors with hiring/firing power not attend. Please be prepared to be respectful, supportive, maintain confidentiality and promote a safer space.

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