Folks, we’re back with another helping of Conquests after you-know-who (me) was knocked out by the flu last week. Yeah, me was knocked the fuck out. Anyway, me got a whole lot to catch you up on, from strikes to votes to walkouts to layoffs. And big fines! And scams! Let’s get into it.
Starbucks worker rally today at Cal Anderson!: As I covered a few days ago, Starbucks is closing their store on Broadway and Denny, their last remaining location in Capitol Hill, under dubious claims of “safety concerns.” Today is their last day of operation, and the workers invite you to come out and rally with them at Cal Anderson Park:
🔈RALLY ALERT 🔊— SB Workers United Seattle (@SeattleSBWU) December 2, 2022
Join us at CAL ANDERSON on FRIDAY December 9th
Labor orgs, teachers, and LGBTQ+ allies are observing @sbworkersunited one year anniversary and rallying in solidarity with the workers at the LAST REMAINING Gaybucks on the Hill on their last day of operation ✊🏳️🌈 pic.twitter.com/DeKMNahB2t
Starbucks named one of US’s worst employers: As More Perfect Union reported yesterday, a sweeping study found Starbucks to be one of the country’s worst employers, earning the study’s lowest score for wages and internal promotions. What makes it even funnier: the study was conducted by Howard Schultz’s own foundation, the Schultz Family Foundation.
Eugene Starbucks workers walk out: Starbucks workers in Oregon are keeping the pressure on. After another Starbucks store in Portland filed for a union election last week, workers in Eugene went on strike Monday:
Yesterday, a community member captured the moment our unionized friends at 29th & Willamette in Eugene, OR marched on the boss and walked out on strike.— SB Workers United Seattle (@SeattleSBWU) December 5, 2022
The grievances cited included unfair dress coding, misogynistic comments, abusive behavior, and health code violations. pic.twitter.com/7gIsEKLNlm
And here's some just-announced Starbucks news:
On the anniversary of our first union victory, we have not one but TWO stores filing for a union election!— Starbucks Workers United (@SBWorkersUnited) December 9, 2022
Welcome workers from the Highway 99 & 185th Starbucks store in Shoreline, WA to the movement! ✨💚☕️ pic.twitter.com/JPpF4iHko8
Delta pilots threaten to strike, earn big raise: Applying pressure certainly worked for Delta pilots this week, as they agreed to a shiny new contract. The terms: an immediate payment equivalent to 22% of their earnings since 2020, an immediate raise of at least 18%, a 5% raise after a year, and 4% raises after years two and three. A big hell yeah to those fine folks.
NEW: Delta pilots just won a 34% raise after voting 99% to authorize a strike.— More Perfect Union (@MorePerfectUS) December 7, 2022
They're leading an uprising of pilots against management at all of America's largest airlines.
Like rail workers, pilots have gone years without a raise & say they’ve hit their breaking point. pic.twitter.com/FlrwDghCoP
Conflict at the Port: This upcoming Tuesday, December 13, airport taxi drivers represented by Teamsters 117 will pack a meeting of the Port Commission. While the Port Commission has voted in the past to support drivers having a voice at work, the drivers are concerned that the Port’s executive staff is overstepping its authority, signaling intentions to make some pretty serious changes without a vote of the elected Commission. These unilateral changes would affect both drivers and passengers, including, according to the union, a blank check to increase fees for taxi trips leaving the airport.
Hear it from one of the drivers: Hassan Warsame, a taxi driver and union leader who has worked as a taxi driver for 23 years, said: “As voters, we elected Port Commissioners to provide oversight and accountability at the Port of Seattle and serve the public interest. Now, we need our elected leaders to vote to ensure drivers have a voice at work and respect our union.” I’ll keep an eye on this one as it develops.
Calling workers at Soi and Banyan Tree: You know it, you love it: it’s Name and Shame! (With a twist!) A former worker at the Soi restaurant in Capitol Hill reached out to share that Soi’s wage theft case has finally been settled and Soi returned nearly $1,000 to them for withholding their earned tips, violating the minimum wage, not paying them overtime, and forcing them to skip legally-mandated breaks. The company was forced to return, in total, $28,284.86 to 106 workers. But that’s not all—this worker is concerned that Soi’s owners are stealing from workers at their other restaurants, which include Banyan Tree in Kent. If you’re a current or former worker at any of these restaurants, please reach out!
Trader Joe’s fined $45,000 for wage theft: Under Seattle’s now-ended Grocery Employee Hazard Pay (GEHP), grocery workers earned an extra $4 per hour during the first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic (6 million dead worldwide!). GEHP overtime hours were supposed to be calculated thusly: base pay + $4 GEHP x 1.5 overtime pay. Well, turns out Trader Joe’s in the University District was conveniently botching that equation, so the Seattle Office of Labor Standards had to step in for the SECOND TIME IN SEVEN MONTHS to fine them for wage theft, announcing this week they’d reached an agreement with Trader Joe’s for the company to return $44,528.22 to 129 employees. “After giving Trader Joe’s several internal opportunities to make this right, they chose not to. For a second time, the OLS has stepped up and helped us find the solutions to the wrongs Trader Joe’s has made toward schedule ordinances and wage theft of mandated hazard pay,” said two current Trader Joe’s Company employees. Cut the shit, TJ’s!
Et tu, Red Robin? This one hurts. Red Robin, a Seattle staple dear to my heart, has also been fined for alleged labor violations. Last week, the Seattle Office of Labor Standards announced Red Robin’s Northgate location agreed to a settlement of nearly a half million dollars after OLS alleged the restaurant “failed to post work schedules at least 14 days in advance, pay employees for employer-initiated schedule changes, and provide required rest and meal breaks.” Red Robin will return $401,986.68 to the affected 343 employees and pay $250.32 to the City of Seattle. A spokesperson for the company said in a statement to OLS, “At Red Robin, we are committed to doing the right thing, the right way, no matter what.” Oh yeah? Well, fucking prove it!
Amazon sued by FTC for stealing tips: Okay, so we all got pretty bummed out about the Red Robin news. How about something better... like Amazon getting sued by the Federal Trade Commission for stealing tips from their drivers! Not having fun yet? How about this: Amazon already had to pay nearly $62 million to drivers for stealing tips from them. But now, the FTC says in a lawsuit the company should have to pay customers who were deceived as well. Hell yeah, baby! Money, please!
A little more of the good stuff? Gas prices are down.
Gas prices are down by nearly a third since the summer – lowering costs for American families. pic.twitter.com/y8c5WduHjU— The White House (@WhiteHouse) December 6, 2022
And this asshole lost:
Herschel Walker scoffed at the idea of cancelling student loan debt and wouldn’t affirm increasing the minimum wage.— PatriotTakes 🇺🇸 (@patriottakes) September 1, 2022
A vote for Walker is a vote to preserve student loan debt and keep wages low. pic.twitter.com/TPzAnbjsD1
And Homegrown workers won again! Remember these folks? After their distribution workers won their vote last month, Homegrown cafe workers won a decisive 59-11 victory yesterday to go pro-union as well. Ivy Vance from their Queen Anne location said: “My coworkers and I fought and won our union at Homegrown today by a huge majority. We are ready to start negotiating a fair contract as soon as possible!”
Big news everyone! The NLRB counted the votes today for Homegrown cafe workers and we won by a huge margin! So happy to follow our brothers and sisters in distribution with another win. We're 2 for 2! #1u pic.twitter.com/uDZ0ZxUnwK— OurUnionIsHomegrown (@OurUnionIsHG) December 8, 2022
WWU student workers file for union: Last Friday, 700 workers at Western Washington University employed by the school as teachers, researchers, and tutors filed to join Western Academic Workers United-UAW. Willa Rowan, a Teaching Assistant in the Geology Department, said: “Recently, we have seen the power of academic organizing on full display at the University of California, and we’ve watched academic workers across the country win better pay, workload protections, real recourse against discrimination and harassment and much more by forming a union. A supermajority of Western ASEs support our union because they want to negotiate as equals with the administration and build a stronger university.” Organizing for equality, baby!
Strike, strike, strike, you’re… in?: Speaking of which, that University of California strike is still on, despite 17 organizers so far being arrested. So is the strike at mega-publisher HarperCollins. Janitors at Twitter went on strike and were promptly fired by Elon Musk—good luck with that holding up in court. And yesterday, workers at the New York Times, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, and the Fort Worth Star-Telegram all went on strike. At the NYT strike, we even saw an appearance from Scabby. Bless you, Scabby! Good tidings to you and yours!
Surprise! You’ve been a very good reader this year, so you get a bonus round of Name and Shame! First up, Buzzfeed. Ahead of a pivot to video, because that worked out so well for everybody last time, Buzzfeed this week announced their second round of layoffs this year. Here’s a listicle of comments for the heartless Buzzfeed execs kicking people out on their ass during the holidays:
- Eat shit
Care industry crooks fined $1 million: Seattle-area adult family home providers Elena’s Home Care, Nashville Adult Family Home, Kirsten Adult Family Home, Woodhaven Adult Family Home, Goldenville Adult Family Home, and AssureCare Adult Home LLC have all been fined by the US Department of Labor for labor violations, totaling $1,060,836 in back wages and liquidated damages for the affected workers plus $30,038 in fines. These despicable crooks employed people to take care of elderly and disabled people and paid them less than minimum wage and denied them overtime pay.
Washington River Protection Solutions fined $157,000 for discriminatory hiring: The DOL alleged Washington River Protection Solutions, an environmental cleanup provider in Richland, discriminated against 151 Hispanic applicants for physics technician trainee roles. This week, the company agreed to pay $157,621 in back wages and interest to the 151 affected job seekers, and make job offers to those applicants who are eligible. Remember this one at Christmas when your uncle talks about Big Bad Government ruining all of our freedoms!
What else, you say? Jeez, you people just can’t get enough. Okay, fine. CVS is being sued for an alleged checkout donation scam. Hertz is paying $168 million to customers who rented cars from them that were then reported as stolen. And three NLRB filings in our area this week, all from Portland: Oregon Catholic Press, Reed College landscape workers, and Wood Mechanix/WMX Holding Company.
Tips, please! Another outstanding week from you fine tippers. Keep ‘em coming! If you have something going on at your work that you’d like to share, please reach out.
And this week’s song, which needs no introduction: Fatboy Slim’s “Praise You,” with the delightful music video directed by Spike Jonze. A bop for you and yours to enjoy this holiday season. Ho-ho-have a great weekend. (Jesus Christ, man, are we about to get two more weeks of this?) (Maybe!)
This story has been updated since its original publication.