End Hardship at the REI Co-Op!We are part-time retail employees who work for one of the most reputable outdoor retailers and cooperatives in the country, Recreational Equipment, Inc. REI is known not only for its remarkable stewardship of the outdoors, but also for its down to earth image as a retailer that ‘authentically’ values its people—an image REI prides itself on and one which distinguishes the co-op from other large scale retailers. The truth of the matter is that a huge number of us are struggling with considerable hardship. We have tried to address our grim circumstances internally, but our corporate leaders and store mangers have turned a blind eye to our outcries. Although REI has enjoyed record profits for the last 3 years, hardship has become a way of life for most of us. While we comprise a vast majority of the retail positions at REI’s 145 and growing stores, none of us receive any real guarantees whatsoever. Such benefits are reserved for the very few full-time positions offered at REI. One of the primary causes for our hardship are the irregular hours we are subject to—ranging from 4 hours to 30 to 12 hours a week (or none at all)—making it nearly impossible for most of us to make ends meet. Another contributing factor is the lack of full-time opportunity that exists for REI’s retail employees. Very few store workers actually work full-time. For instance, in a store that is staffed with nearly 200 workers, only about 14 of these workers (outside of management positions) are guaranteed full-time hours. For the rest of us, we are at the mercy of REI’s frequent payroll cutbacks and its variable scheduling practices. None of REI’s part-time employees are guaranteed hours—not even 4 hours a week—because that is REI’s store policy. To exacerbate matters, employees are negatively impacted when REI hires more part-time workers during seasonal upswings in business, even though there are plenty of existing workers who are not getting enough hours. While REI claims that it has to hire more part-time employees to meet expected business demands, this is not true. There are many dedicated workers who desperately need to work more, but REI will not accommodate them. REI’s reluctance to make this commitment to its workforce, also impacts the few meaningful benefits that we could be eligible for, like health insurance. While REI boasts it offers health insurance to its part-time workforce, only employees who work a rolling average of 20 hours a week can receive it. Those employees who qualify for coverage can just as easily lose it, simply because of the frequent payroll cutbacks made at REI. Last year alone, we witnessed a large number of distressed colleagues who were fraught with panic, after they learned REI was dropping their coverage. As a united voice, we are demanding that REI make a commitment to its employees by giving us stable hours, offering us more full-time opportunity and putting an end to the practice of over-staffing its stores with so many part-time employees—that hardly any of us can get the hours we need to make ends meet. In addition, it is imperative that REI addresses our low wages. In light that we were told part-time employees would not be eligible for a Living Wage, our hardship is a testament that one is needed. When most REI part-time employees are starting at a wage of just over $10 an hour and it will take an estimated 20 years to earn a Living Wage, REI is not doing enough to provide for the well-being of its employees. Finally, part-time employees are requesting 3 weeks advance scheduling notice from the store managers who are responsible for scheduling. Typically employees receive a one weeks notice and this is not nearly enough time for those employees who need to plan for daycare, a second job, or school. We believe no REI employee should have to take desperate measures in order to survive their jobs at the REI Co-op. When employees are seeking emergency assistance from state and federal funded programs like food stamps, donating plasma to blood banks, participating in risky pharmaceutical experiments, living off credit cards and student loans, selling off their belongings or relying on loving parents to bail them out—REI is not doing enough to take care of its workforce. We’re tired of witnessing our colleagues in great despair at work (sometimes to the point of tears), after their hours have been reduced so drastically that they don’t know how they’re going to survive. To drive our message home, here’s a glimpse into what employees were saying after REI’s extraordinary #OptOutside campaign was announced last year. One employee stated, “I’m glad I’ll have at least one paid day in November (Black Friday).” Others exclaimed: “Are there any of us who can actually afford to get outside to our favorite outdoor spaces on Black Friday?” and “REI expects me to be stoked about #OptOutside, I can’t even afford a turkey for Thanksgiving!” That was our #OptOutside reality when REI’s amazing campaign took media by storm. With the support of our loyal members and the sympathetic guests who shop at REI, retail employees are demanding that REI authentically value us and treat us like the myth #OptOutside created. Hardship should not be a way of life for any of REI’s fiercely dedicated workers. Moreover, it was not the vision that our co-founders, Mary & Lloyd Anderson, had intended for us. It is time the REI Co-op revisit its roots as a true cooperative and value all its employees as much as the outdoors it is renown for preserving. #OptInChange for REI’s friendly green-vested ‘Inspired Guides’—The Andersons (the name we’ve adopted in honor of our co-founders, to represent all REI's working-class heroes). Thank you for your support!
Chipotle: Bring Back our Vision Through Better Work ConditionsThis is important because we will lose many of our top performers who hold all 13 rare characteristics required to work here. We want to be able to give our customers extraordinary speedy service. This is also very important to resolve because there was a time when we all really did love working at Chipotle, otherwise we wouldn't have gone to such extreme measures to get our point across. Now employee morale is suffering because we're so understaffed and overworked. We all love this company because it stands for something uniquely great. We want to better this company, which starts by improving the work conditions of our everyday employees, the heart and soul of this company.
Fix the 7 South Staffing CrisisLast May, you asked the nurses of USC to complete a nursing satisfaction survey. As you are aware, 7 South had lower scores in all areas of the survey. We are now asking you to make changes that will not only improve the satisfaction of our nurses, but will also fix the patient safety crisis that is being faced in 7 South. We have struggled with a staffing shortage for over a year, and have been asking you to address the situation since Huron was hired and the nursing restructuring occurred. The deplorable conditions under which we have been working has caused mental and physical stress. We exhibit signs of nursing burnout, yet we are told that we are the cause, and that we need to create a solution in order to be able to have new staff hired into our unit. No consideration has been made into the cause of our fatigue; no thought pondered for the immense amount of pressure under which we work. We have just been told to wait. As patient advocates, this petition is informing you that it is in our professional opinion that we can wait no longer. The staffing crisis is unsafe, and is placing patients and nurses at risk. These demands are what are necessary to increase morale, improve satisfaction scores, increase nurse retention, and prepare us for achieving Magnet status. How bad does the staffing crisis have to be; how many more patients are going to be negatively impacted by not receiving the proper care they need and deserve; and how many more work-related injuries will there be before you recognize the unique needs of 7 South and our patients? You are now notified that in our professional judgments the staffing situation is unsafe and places our patients and staff at risk. Under protest, we will attempt to care for our patients to the best of our ability, but it is you who are now responsible for any adverse effects on patient care due to the staffing crisis. We would like to meet with you and our union representative to discuss a plan of implementation within the next two weeks.
#vapoRISE with Beyond Vape workers!We the workers of Beyond Vape enjoy the culture and community we work within. We respect our customers and take the quality and proper use of the products they purchase very seriously. We work to create an environment that is comfortable, dignified and respectful for Beyond Vape Customers. Unfortunately, we do not find ourselves treated in the same manner Beyond Vape is one of the largest and most profitable vaping company chains in New York City and we, its workers, provide consistent professionalism and quality service, helping to maintain loyal customers who are committed to purchasing their product. We deserve to be compensated for our hard work and should not have to face hardships while juggling the responsibilities between our everyday lives, families, school and our jobs. On August 1st Beyond Vape workers,frustrated with the lack of clarity, dignity and respect on the job, decided to collectively deliver a petition to the owner Chris Chuang, Since the petition delivery the company has retaliated with harsh neglect and little to no change in the store conditions. With your help we can raise awareness to these issues and have them changed. We ask that as Beyond Vape customers, you sign this petition to support us in our work to get the company to treat us with dignity, respect our personal lives and compensate us fairly. We want to continue to provide quality service at Beyond Vape and your support will help us do that.
Starbucks, Lack of Labor is Killing MoraleThe labor situation has gone from tight to infuriating. Labor has been cut so much in corporate stores, that one call-off (an employee calling in sick) impacts the entire day, as managers are directed to cut shifts to save on labor costs. Baristas trying to work more than 25 hours a week (myself included) find that a near impossible task. You end up taking it personally, when corporate directs your stores to understaff, and under schedule. You wonder if they realize how difficult it is to pay your bills when you work 25 hours a week? Right now, the labor allowed to stores is so dire that it’s killing morale, companywide. Let it be stated that this job isn’t a hard one. It’s demanding, but it’s easy work, if trained properly. Customers want their coffee and they want it in a timely fashion. As labor continues to be cut, it creates an atmosphere where baristas are worn to the bone without being able to take a breath. Cleanliness suffers, speed of service suffers, partners suffer. Many baristas are twenty-something college students, living at home. Many more are people like myself, artists, writers, breadwinners, who depend on their income. The tip situation has also drastically changed. Before the implementation of a Starbucks Reward program (MSR), tips were higher. Now, with a growing percentage and majority of customers using the app, and their registered cards, tips are in major decline. When you factor that in with actual take home pay, it’s a scary place to be. The way Starbucks frames itself, is that it’s a company worth investing in, worth being loyal to. Because of the health care, the benefits, the 401K, the stock, on the outside, why wouldn’t you want to invest yourself, as an employee to a great company? (and it is a great company). Realistically, investing in starbucks, as an employee, is becoming more difficult. Hours are becoming more elusive as store managers hire 10-20 employees at 20-25 hours a week, sacrificing tenured employees. At Starbucks, tenure makes no difference. These days, a 7 year employee makes as much as a new hire. Experience is given no merit. Right now, the labor climate keeps most baristas regularly underemployed, enough to qualify for benefits, but not enough to afford to pay for them. The most frustrating aspect lately is the pay, and having to commute to work for a 4.5 hour shift, while spending over an hours worth of pay to get yourself there. Labor is the real bone of contention, in addition to the drinks that corporate continues to roll out, (absent the labor to support them, as in years past), baristas also continue to struggle in their stores, with more expectation, with less support staff. These days, baristas do the work for two to three people as labor isn’t just cut to save money, it’s under cut, so stores are intentionally understaffed. I love Starbucks. As an artist, and a fan of process, it’s a job that plays into that love (and to my strengths), and a genuine connection to people and customers of all ages, races, genders, and expressions. The Starbucks culture is singular. I haven’t experienced it anywhere else. What’s happening is a slow extinction of that culture. As less and less people are staffed in stores the pressure mounts. THIS is what needs to change.
Save Windsor Northwest School Staff JobsThe Bethel, Stockbridge and Rochester School Boards collected bids earlier this school year to hire private companies to run the food service programs and buses next year. In part citing state law (Act 153) and a need to cut costs, the school boards appear they may follow through and hire private companies next year instead of keeping the jobs employed by the school. Eliminating school-run programs to save a few dollars and in the process cutting the jobs of loyal food service and transportation employees is not fair. Act 153 does require individual school districts to move all transportation decisions for students from the districts to the Supervisory Union, but it does not require the hiring of a private company. Act 153 encourages Supervisory Unions to find ways to be as cost effective and efficient as possible with transportation expenses. Private companies cannot guarantee to offer to do the work for less than what the Supervisory Union pays as a direct employer without cutting corners, wages and benefits. Most of our school food service and transportation employees are long-term, loyal and committed employees. These staff members have played by the rules and worked hard for the districts. These employees often go above and beyond what they’re expected to do, especially for students in need. As members of the East Branch Education Association and Upper Valley Education Association, they’ve negotiated fairly with the school boards since a union formed over 15 years ago (Stockbridge 8 years ago). These employees are hourly workers. No one in these positions gets paid days they do not work during school year or receives unemployment over the summer. These people are our hard working neighbors with many not even making a livable wage. Farming out the work to a private company removes local control and authority over the hiring/supervision of employees who will be in our schools and driving our buses. Plus, using private companies to do the work currently done by the school districts does not guarantee that the work will be cheaper for the Supervisory Union. In fact, companies such as Butler Transportation, are in business to make money/profit. While a bid may come in lower to do the work, it usually means a cut in services or benefits/wages to the workers or both. Any short-term “deal” made with Butler or another company to hire current school-employed bus drivers (or food service workers) does not bind that employer long-term to keep the same wages/benefits for that individual. Again, these are businesses looking to make a profit, unlike our schools. If companies cut services or reduce the quality of school food program or transportation services, our students feel the impact. Private companies running food or transportation services in Vermont often offer no paid sick days or offer health insurance, making the jobs even less livable for working people, causing turn over in staff. High turnover in our kitchens and with our bus drivers hurts the relationships staff have with students. Ask the employees and/or parents of students in communities who use private companies like the Abbey Group or Butler Transportation. Low standards for the food program and transportation department and its employees are not consistent with our community’s values.
Kmart: Show your thanks for employees this holiday season!For several years in a row now, my mom -- a Kmart employee -- has missed out moments from our family’s Thanksgiving Day traditions like so many other retail workers across the country. While some retailers are reversing this trend in 2015, we’re guessing that allowing employees to celebrate Thanksgiving Day as family holiday is a thing of the past for Kmart workers and their families. Last year, thousands of Kmart employees and their supporters joined my campaign to allow employees to have Thanksgiving Day off. We heard from dozens of other Kmart employees that while the company said they would rely on employees who volunteered to work on Thanksgiving, but that was often not the case. What’s more: many employees didn’t even know when they were scheduled to work until the last minute. It’s already the beginning of November and Kmart has yet to announce their Thanksgiving day hours, and employees like my mom do not know what to expect for the upcoming holiday schedule. This makes planning for the holidays even more difficult for workers and the family and friends in their lives. While some employees have heard that the company will try to rely on volunteers, it’s unclear if that will really be the case in the end. Without knowing the store hours, it is impossible to tell. Kmart can at least make planning and enjoying the very limited time families spread across the country get to spend together easier by letting employees know right away when they will be expected to work; by relying on those employees who volunteer to work on Thanksgiving to earn extra pay; and by committing to not make last minute changes that wreak havoc on retail workers’ lives.
Invest in Disability ServicesBecause of a lack of funding many people with disabilities are not getting the Personal Assistant support they need, making some prisoners in their own home. PAs have also suffered cuts to their pay and conditions, making ends meet a real challenge for many. People with a disability deserve to live with dignity and workers deserve a living wage. We all have the right to own independence, it's time to make this a reality for all.
Bath & Body Works: Give employees more hours for floor setsWorking a floor set shift is basically like coming in and setting up a brand new store. We need to fill under-stocked items with all remaining products we have (so that we don't have to constantly run to the back and search for product); box up old merchandise which will no longer be sold on the sales floor; clean (which takes a long time since it includes picking up extra props and all the empty boxes we're taking the new products out of); take out the trash several times; mop and sweep the floor; and more. Having been at B&BW for a year now, I've worked every floor set and we don't leave until 2-3 AM if we are lucky. Managers will send several people home in the middle of the floor set because they say they "have no more hours" they are allowed to use employees for. If we run out of time and the store still isn't in a condition that is ready to open to the public the next day, some of us basically have to volunteer to stay longer to finish the job. It is stressful and counterproductive to constantly be told to hurry and move faster when we want to do our task correctly. More often than not, during the next few days -- which should be productive sales days -- we spend time fixing what wasn't finished on the night of floor set since enough employees weren't given enough hours to do it right. This takes away from customer experience. This is important to not only me, but likely my fellow co-workers and managers because we need the extra time to use on detail and making sure we are doing what is fully expected of us.
Starbucks: End clopens now!My life is hectic but I manage to make it all work. I go to school at night and -- until July -- worked two part time jobs to make ends meet. One of my jobs was working as a barista for more than 2 years at a Starbucks in New Haven, CT. At Starbucks, I often worked back to back closing and then opening shifts - with 7 or 8 hours between shifts. Among Starbucks baristas this is known as a "clopening." Last year, my store didn’t have a manager so I was clopening more than 6 times a month! Lately, because of my second job, I clopened 1-2 times a month. And because of high turnover in the store, my boss started scheduling me wherever they needed me instead of taking into account my second job and school schedules. In July, I was called in to work at the last minute, even though I was needed at my other job. My manager wrote me up because I was unable to get a replacement for a time I wasn't even scheduled for. This isn’t right - my time counts. And when the store was understaffed on closing shifts, I was forced to stay even later than my scheduled shift in order to make sure the store was ready to open for the morning rush. Because I was frequently scheduled for clopening shifts, I got just 4 or 5 hours of sleep a night. I was doing all I could to get ahead, but Starbucks’ scheduling practices made me question whether that was possible and I parted ways with Starbucks. Even though I no longer work there, I know I am not the only partner struggling with these issues. I want to help all my former coworkers by asking the company to give workers 11 hours of rest between shifts in all U.S. stores, across the board so we aren’t at the mercy of individual managers Many of us have different experiences at Starbucks, depending on our manager. Please join me in asking Starbucks for consistent protections across the company, starting with healthy schedules across the board.
Permanent Status for Santa Monica Beach WorkersThe problem of long-term, full-time workers being stuck in second class temporary status isn’t just a problem on the Santa Monica beach. Employers shifting jobs from permanent positions to temporary positions is now so common that it’s created a whole new section of permanent temporary workers in the economy - the ‘permatemp’ economy. Employers often do this to avoid things like unions, benefits, tougher labor laws - things that for us workers mean the difference between a job that allows us to get somewhere in life and a job that just keeps us barely surviving to the next day. We can do better. Santa Monica can lead the way.
Justice for former Bluestone workersIn the words of a former Bluestone worker, "we live from pay to pay, we depend on our wages to be in our account so that we are able to pay our bills and rent". Bluestone's collapse has left some workers missing out on rent and mortgage payments leaving them feeling "sick" and "anxious". When you put in a day's work you should get a fair day's pay.
Zara: Treat retail employees with respectUPDATE: Thanks to you, our efforts are starting to #ChangeZara! In December, Zara workers in NYC received a letter from the US Managing Director, Dilip Patel, saying that workers will receive raises of up to $3 an hour and access to full-time positions. This is a major victory for our campaign and demonstrates that when workers come together, we can make real changes! Our campaign is gaining great momentum, but we still need your support to help bring Dilip Patel to the table and hear our concerns. Please read our petition below and sign and share! ***** First off, let me introduce myself. I’m Jedidiah Labinjo and I work at Zara in New York City. Sharlene Santos, one of the original leaders of the campaign, recently moved out of state so I’ve been inspired to step up and help move the campaign along with my Zara coworkers -- and you! I’ve worked as a sales associate at the Zara store in SoHo for a year. I have been commended by my supervisor for my work ethic and customer service skills, but I’ve yet to see an increase in my pay of $10.50 an hour. I live with my mother and contribute to my family’s bills. I’m also in school full-time studying pre-law, which has helped me think about my rights at work. It’s hard to juggle my priorities of work, school, and family when I have a constantly changing schedule at Zara. Managers are full-time, but we sales associates have a very hard time getting more hours, even though Zara continues hiring more part-time associates. Many associates feel that there is a lot of favoritism in determining who gets the promotions that would make us full-time. Many of my coworkers are students or parents with young children. We all work hard to get by. We earn so little at Zara that many of us can’t even afford to buy the clothes that we sell. With these kinds of poverty schedules, we are forced to choose between bills, rent, and food. So my coworkers and I circulated a petition to address our issues at Zara: low wages, not enough hours, favoritism, and disrespect. When we presented our concerns to a store manager, she said there was nothing she could do. Since we first launched this petition, a delegation of Zara workers from the US traveled to Spain to take our concerns directly to the top company executives as US Management has not agreed to sit down with us collectively for substantive discussions. We’ve been told to discuss problems at work on a one-on-one basis with our managers. But these issues aren’t individual -- they are company-wide. We want Zara’s management to come to the table to hear our #ChangeZara committee’s collective concerns about scheduling, wages, and opportunities for advancement. Zara's hugely profitable parent company, Inditex, is proud of its reputation as a socially responsible business. Zara workers in Spain have a union that grants them a voice at the table -- don't we deserve the same respect here in the US? Join us in our fight to #ChangeZara.
Protect MVU JobsLast fall, rumors of privatizing (also called sub-contracting) the MVU cafeteria to The Abbey Group circulated. The MVU cafeteria staff and many other staff are concerned that the school-run program may simply be “eliminated” to save a few dollars. This is not fair. The food service employees are long-term, loyal and committed employees. They have a collective 66 years of service to the school, performed high quality work, and often go above and beyond what they are expected to do, especially for students. All the staff at MVU bring the same level of commitment to the school and the students. The MVU cafeteria workers are being proactive and are asking the MVU Board for something very simple – to adopt a policy that it will not privatize the food service jobs at MVU or any of the work currently being performed by its staff. This is perfectly legal. It doesn’t violate the existing union contract. It doesn’t violate the Municipal Employees Labor Relations Act. It is well within the rights of the Board to pass such a policy. The policy wording we propose would be as follows: “It will be the policy of the Missisquoi Valley Union School Board of Directors to not sub-contract any work currently being performed by employees of the Board.” Contractors, like the Abbey Group, are in business to make money/profit. If they’re going to make money from the school, they will have to cut corners somewhere. Either they will cut services, or the wages they pay to workers, or both. If they cut services, the quality of school food program, in this case, goes down. And if they cut wages, they will get people in to work who are not very qualified, or who will leave as soon as they get a better job. Contractors like Abbey Group often offer no paid sick days or benefits, making the jobs even less livable for working people, causing more turn over in staff. High turnover hurts quality of the food program and it hurts the relationships staff have with the students. Low standards for the food program and its employees are not consistent with the MVU’s values. We encourage you to add your name to encourage the board to adopt this policy. Thank you.
Help Us Change MSP Airport: Dignified Jobs Not Poverty WagesThe MAC’s goal is to provide travelers at the Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport “the best airport experience in North America,” and we are the workers who make that experience possible. We take pride in our work, doing important jobs like providing wheelchair and electric cart service to passengers with disabilities and senior passengers, yet we are struggling to survive on poverty wages with no benefits and little training or support. We are calling on the MAC to ensure the workers who provide essential services for rich corporations like Delta are allowed to form a union so they are can get proper training, increase staffing levels, and get paid a living wage and benefits. Please join with us in our fight to end poverty wages at MSP so we can make it an Airport that Works for ALL of Us.