Striking workers peacefully picketing at Insomnia Cookies, Harvard Square, MA, have been attacked and arrested by the local police.
Picketers were asked to stop using a PA system, which they did, but were then attacked for no apparent reason. IWW member, Jason Freedman, was ‘punched and bloodied before being ‘thrown onto the trunk of a car’. The strike action started in mid-August when the entire nightshift decided to walk out until their demands for job stability, healthcare provision, adequate breaks, and union recognition, were met. At least two of the strikers have been dismissed after the union-busting bosses discovered they are members of the IWW.
Jason Freedman was subsequently charged with disorderly conduct, assaulting a police officer, and resisting arrest. The police operation was in response to false claims by the store bosses that the pickets had been causing an obstruction.
The following is some background to the dispute via Boston IWW:
“The public struggle at Insomnia Cookies in Harvard Square began at
midnight on August 18, when the entire four-person night shift voted to
initiate a strike for higher wages, healthcare, and freedom to form a
union. Peña, Mendes, and co-workers Chris Helali and Luke Robinson—whom
since moved out of state—closed the shop, contacted the IWW, and began
holding pickets and building connections with Harvard and BU student
organizations. Pickets have since spread to the new Boston University
Workers claim Insomnia has a bad track record when it comes to following
labor laws and fairly compensating their employers. According to the
demand letter, “for months prior to the strike, workers employed as
‘drivers,’ had not received minimum wage. Also, employees often did not
receive the 30 minute meal break for shifts longer than 6 hours, to which
they are entitled by MA State Law.” Drivers, who deliver cookies by
bicycle until 3 A.M., and rely on tips to pad their $5 and hour wage,
complain the company has unrealistic expectations of delivery times, and
pressure from management causes unsafe riding and accidents. What’s worse,
according to the union, “Insomnia does not give paid time off when drivers
get hurt on the job, and instead blame them for the accidents.” The
company doesn’t offer health benefits to the workers either.
Before the strike, the average turnover rate for a local Insomnia employee
was only three weeks. The droves of Boston-area Insomnia workers who have
recently quit the job, as well as the firing of the company’s regional
manager—in part due to his inability to keep his stores staffed and
functioning—attest to the aptly-named Insomnia work environment. Insomnia,
which has 33 locations on college campuses across the US, sustains itself
only by exploiting students two-fold: as employees, where they are
underpaid, barely trained, and overworked, and also as consumers, where
they are sold frozen cookies at unjustifiably high prices. In order to
hold Insomnia accountable and to end the company’s reprehensible labor
practices, IWW members are encouraging workers nationally to join the
union, and if they are planning to quit already, to go on strike.”
NO JUSTICE NO COOKIES!!!!
Should you wish to contact Henrietta Davis, Mayor of Cambridge to tell her what you think about the police, then feel free – firstname.lastname@example.org
To read much more about the dispute and to keep updated - http://iwwboston.org/