Week 3: Workers at Janus Youth Services Still Need Your Solidarity!

We’ll be changing our schedule a bit this coming week:

  • 11am-1pm on Tuesday the 22nd & Friday the 25
  • 3pm-5pm on Wednesday the 23rd & Thursday the 24th

If you’re new to the picket, try to show up half an hour early at Grendel’s Coffee, on the corner of 8th & E Burnside. The picket itself takes place around the corner at NE 7th & NE Couch St.

So, what’s happening at Janus?
The IWW has represented workers at Janus for 10 years, and the workers are currently fighting for a new contract. These negotiations have been going on for a year and a half now, with very little progress until recently. The workers are asking for a modest raise and very little else. However, Executive Director Dennis Morrow refuses to give any raise unless the workers agree to get rid of the Peer Review Panel which they’ve had since their first contract a decade ago. The Panel is the last step in a lengthy review process that workers have at their disposal if they are wrongfully fired. Janus wants to replace that Panel — a democratic body made up of 3 workers and 2 administrators — with mandatory arbitration, which will cost up to $1500/day, essentially in an effort to break the Union financially. And that arbitration isn’t binding, so even if the mediator finds that the worker was wrongfully fired, Janus won’t have to rehire them.

Two weeks ago, the Janus workers organized a picket outside the administrative offices, and we’ve been going strong there every day since. After all the stagnation in negotiations, Janus has finally started to budge since we’ve been outside making noise, and is moving closer to meeting our basic demands. We feel like this battle is close to being won, and so we’ve decided to keep up the pressure on Janus this week, February 22nd – 25th.

If you know you can make it any particular day or days, send us an email so we can keep track of our expected numbers. If you can’t schedule ahead of time, no big deal. Just come out and shout. We’ve got songs. We’ve got signs. We’ve got solidarity forever!

Update on the Janus Youth Direct Action!

Hey Janus!

  • Use your money to help youth, not fight workers!
  • Allow workers to keep democratic oversight!
  • Don’t make workers choose between a fair wage and a fair contract!

Over 15 Janus workers and IWW members lined the sidewalks in front of Janus Youth Programs today with these demands. Morale was high and there was plenty of chanting and even some singing today as workers participated in direct action to pressure Janus into respecting their workers and giving them what they deserve.

What can you do to help?
Come join us on the picket line! We will be there every business day from 9am to 11am until demands are met. Or make a phone call to (503) 233-6090 and ask for the executive director, Dennis Morrow. When you call, let them know you calling in support of the union workers at Janus Youth. The workers deserve both the peer review panel and a decent wage. Janus must not deny the democratic oversight provided by the peer review panel and replace it with a process that could cost workers and the program thousands of dollars. As a non-profit, Janus should use your money to help youth, not fight workers. If you’d like to get in touch with the workers, write to them at:

KBOO Community Radio recently covered the picket on their news broadcast: LISTEN HERE.

Employees at Janus Youth Programs Hold Informational Picket to Protect Their Rights

Employees at Harry’s Mother & Streetlight/Porchlight, nonprofit youth shelters run by Janus Youth Programs, are holding a demonstration to protect their rights. Employees, along with members of the Portland branch of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW), the union representing these two programs will be holding an informational picket outside of Janus Youth Programs’ administrative offices, at 707 NE Couch, starting Monday, February 7th, from 9 to 11am. The picket will continue each business day until demands are met.

“We’re requesting that Janus focus their budget on improving services for youth rather than using those resources to fight their workers,” states Ciara Doyle, a member of the bargaining team. For the past 10 years, employees have had a contract with Janus Youth Programs providing them a peer review panel. This panel consists of 2 supervisors and 3 employees who democratically review contested employee firings. Janus is attempting to replace the peer review panel with mandatory arbitration. This outside arbitration process could easily cost Janus and its employees $1500 per session while the current panel costs virtually nothing. Without the financial resources, employees cannot participate as equals in an arbitration process.

Janus is withholding a wage raise until its workers agree to mandatory arbitration. “Janus is forcing its workers to choose between a fair contract and a living wage — we deserve both,” says Laura Taylor, an employee at Harry’s Mother.

Harry’s Mother and Streetlight/Porchlight offer many services to youth and families in crisis. Harry’s Mother provides shelter to runaway and at-risk youth. It also hosts the Reception Center, an alternative to juvenile detention. Streetlight/Porchlight provides short-term and emergency housing for youth experiencing homelessness.

The Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) is a volunteer-run union open to all workers. The Portland branch of the IWW represents workers at three local non-profit programs.

Starbucks Baristas Win Equal Treatment for MLK Day After Three Year Union Fight

For Immediate Release:
IWW Starbucks Workers Union
November 18, 2010

Employees that Work on Dr. King’s Holiday will Receive Time-and-One-Half Holiday Pay

New York, NY– Starbucks baristas across the United States for the first time next year will begin receiving a time-and-one-half holiday premium for working on Martin Luther King, Jr. Day. The move comes after a spirited three-year initiative of the IWW Starbucks Workers Union (SWU) which made public the company’s second-class treatment of Dr. King’s birthday and called on the coffee giant to pay the same premium that it pays workers on six other federal holidays. After Starbucks refused to change its policy, union workers and their supporters launched a determined campaign of grassroots actions in Starbucks stores and communities all across the country in support of equal treatment for MLK Day.

Starbucks Union members say this is an especially emotional victory, given that the SWU has long-cited the Reverend Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. as a major inspiration. Dr. King, who was assassinated in Memphis while supporting the effort of striking sanitation workers to form a union, was a staunch and outspoken defender of workers’ rights including the right to a living wage and the right to join a labor union.

“We’re deeply moved to have been able in our modest way to increase respect for Dr. King’s legacy while ensuring that Starbucks employees who work on his holiday are fairly compensated,” said Anja Witek, a Starbucks barista and SWU member in Minnesota. “This is a great example of what baristas and all low-wage workers can achieve by getting organized and taking direct action in support of workplace justice issues.”

While Starbucks claims to ’embrace diversity’, it doggedly resisted the SWU’s call for equal treatment of MLK Day for three years. The company based its refusal on the claim that its holiday policy was in line with the (abysmally low) standards of the food service sector. The SWU made the case that Starbucks’ commitment to diversity was illusory, citing the disproportionate number of workers of color in the lowest-paid positions in the company and its intense exploitation of coffee farmers including the Ethiopian workers who grew some of Starbucks’ most expensive beans but received just 2.2% of the retail price.

“This is a great step forward and a moving victory yet we’re mindful that there is much work to be done to make Starbucks a living wage employer that offers reliable work hours and respects the right of workers to join the union,” said Daniel Gross, a former Starbucks barista and SWU member in New York City. “We’re thrilled to continue building the SWU and demonstrating just how compelling a model solidarity unionism is for fast food workers and all working people.”

Commonly misunderstood by the news media and denounced by corporate executives frightened by its effectiveness, solidarity unionism is a simple and powerful method of organizing outside of the government certification bureaucracy. In a solidarity union, workers simply self-organize and come to an agreement on workplace justice issues to pursue like fair raises, affordable health care, and respectful treatment from management. The workers’ group then creates a strategic plan and leads workplace actions, community solidarity, and grassroots advocacy to win the desired job improvements.

The Industrial Workers of the World union effort at Starbucks is the first time a labor organization in the United States has succeeded in building a base of organized baristas at the company. With over 300 worker-organizers across the country and growing, the SWU has consistently chalked up victories at Starbucks including across-the-board raises, more secure work hours, and respectful treatment from previously abusive managers whose conduct improved due to union pressure campaigns. The SWU has repeatedly prevailed against Starbucks in the legal arena across multiple cities including in a lengthy New York City trial over pervasive illegal union-busting, the first time the company had to square off against baristas in open court regarding unfair labor practices.

Founded in 2004, the IWW Starbucks Workers Union is a grassroots organization of baristas, bussers, and shift supervisors at the world’s largest coffee chain united for a living wage, secure work hours, and a voice on the job. Starbucks employees interested in improving their jobs through collective action can get connected at http://www.StarbucksUnion.org. Founded in 1905, the Industrial Workers of the World is a dynamic and member-driven union committed to workplace democracy and global solidarity.

Background Information:

  1. Massive E-mail Action in Support of the SWU’s Initial Call on Starbucks for Holiday Pay on MLK Day: http://www.starbucksunion.org/node/1918
  2. Starbucks’ Initial Denial of the SWU’s Demand- http://www.starbucksunion.org/node/1928
  3. Essay on the Launch of the Campaign and its Background- http://www.counterpunch.org/gross01192008.html
  4. 2010 SWU Protest in Support of Equality for MLK Day (one of countless actions across the country over the last three years)- http://www.starbucksunion.org/node/2236

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