IWW liquor store workers in Minneapolis fired for union activity

Some updates on a recent IWW campaign in Minneapolis, in which 5 workers were fired for organizing.

Submitted by Juan Conatz on April 7, 2013

From The Organizer:

On Saturday, April 6th, passers-by will be treated to the sight of a large picket outside of Minnesota’s highest volume liquor store, Chicago-Lake liquors. Picketers will hold signs and chant slogans of support for the workers of the store, five of whom were fired after asking for higher wages as a part of a union drive with the Industrial Workers of the World.

Although workers had been discussing forming a union and acting for better conditions in their workplace for almost a year, the event will mark the first time any of them publicly declare their IWW affiliation. This declaration and action comes on the heels of the firing of five union employees–Hallie Wallace, Arella Vargas, Max Specktor, Davis Ritsema, and Joe Giwoyna–shortly after they presented a petition signed by the majority of the shop’s workforce asking for a dollar raise and elevating its $10.50 pay cap to $13 an hour. In January, the workers also turned in a petition asking for holiday pay.

“If there’s anywhere that needs a union, it’s a store like Chi-Lake,” said Wallace, “Despite the immense amount of money that we bring in, our wages are incredibly low. We have no paid sick days or holiday pay, scheduling is inconsistent, and we put up with unsafe working conditions and sexual harassment on a daily basis. We’ve come together to demand respect and dignity on the job for everyone working at Chi-Lake, and they’ve responded with nothing more than aggressive union-busting.”

At the picket, the workers and supporters will make clear their demands, which are to rehire those fired illegally, provide raises to all employees as initially asked, and that management stop union-busting.

In addition to the picket action on Saturday, the five fired workers also filed Unfair Labor Practices with the National Labor Relations Board.

“We will keep fighting until they rehire all five of the fired workers and give us all the raises we deserve,” said Specktor, “We’re not going to allow ourselves to be bullied by management. We’re going to win this fight.”

The campaign at Chicago Lake Liquors represents a new step for Food and Retail Workers United, an organizing committee of the Industrial Workers of the World labor union. Gaining prominence in recent years for organizing Starbucks and Jimmy Johns workers, the IWW is a global union founded over a century ago for all working people.

Here's a short video made by some folks from OccupyMN


And finally, some pictures I took (I'm sure there's more/better ones coming)


Italy Calling

11 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Italy Calling on April 7, 2013

This is brilliant!! Hope to see the same amount of people getting involved over here in the UK soon...!

Juan Conatz

11 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Juan Conatz on April 10, 2013

More picket pics

Juan Conatz

11 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Juan Conatz on April 13, 2013

There's another picket tonight. I'll probably be posting pics on The Organizer and/or Twin Cities IWW's FB


Juan Conatz

11 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Juan Conatz on April 14, 2013

Unfortunatly, in a mad rush, I left my phone at my apartment before the picket,,,

Thankfully, a video was made.


laura baum

11 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by laura baum on April 18, 2013

Solidarity! Please keep us updated

Juan Conatz

11 years 1 month ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Juan Conatz on April 19, 2013


We're still keeping the pressure on management and letting coworkers know we're there. Setting up frequent leafletting outside the store during busy hours.

We also hit up almost every major liquor store in the metro area with this, which was written by a former liquor store worker.

A WePay account has also been set-up, to help the fired workers with basic needs, as well, as help with organizing expenses.

CityPages, the local free culture newspaper or however you want to describe it, has been covering us decently.



Juan Conatz

11 years ago

In reply to by libcom.org

Submitted by Juan Conatz on May 6, 2013

On Saturday, we sort of did our May Day event by throwing up another picket. This time a 'soft picket', that crossed both the front driveway and back driveway. We only opened up after a vehicle came to a full stop (while a FW walked up with leaflet). In the hour we did this, I estimate 30-35 vehicles chose not to cross the picket line, and instead turned around and shopped elsewhere.


5 years 12 months ago

In reply to by libcom.org

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