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May 4th Picket and BBQ (DETAILS UPDATED)

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Back in our parents’ and grandparents’ day, the unions of the Twin Cities organized picnics and events that brought out the family, friends, coworkers and neighbors of the union members. This concept of unionism as being in the community, as well as the workforce, is something we believe in.

So join the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) on May 4th for a picket of Chicago-Lake Liquors, followed by a BBQ in the park. Musical acts, exact location of BBQ and more details to be announced, as we get closer to the date.

Picket at Chicago-Lake Liquors 3PM (Meet at NW corner of Powderhorn Park at 2:35)

BBQ at 3525 10th Ave S 5PM

Background of picket:

On the week of April 1st, five workers at Chicago-Lake Liquors were fired for respectfully asking management for raises. This is wrong and illegal. All workers have the right to come together to improve their job conditions, and these firings are a clear attack on their rights and dignity.

On April 6th, the five fired workers announced their membership with
Food and Retail Workers United (FRWU), an organizing committee of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union.

We are demanding that management:
-Rehire the 5 fired workers
-Pay a living wage to all employees
-Stop union busting

Sisters’ Camelot refuses NLRB settlement, hires lawyer to “avoid union incursion”

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This Wednesday morning Sisters’ Camelot, a non-profit mobile food shelf engaged in a two-month-long strike of its canvass workers, rejected a settlement offer from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), opting instead to fight the union in court. In order to do so, they have hired a right-wing, professional “union-avoidance” attorney, John C. Hauge from FordHarrison, a nation-wide anti-labor law firm, shocking the striking canvassers of the progressive organization. Concerned that Hauge is seeking to set precedent against independent contractors’ rights, the canvassers are seeking support from other unions and organizations.

The settlement offer included immediately rehiring fired union member ShugE Mississippi, paying his back wages, and posting a public apology at the Sisters’ Camelot office. Since the Sisters’ Camelot collective declined this offer, the NLRB will take Sisters’ Camelot to court to seek a binding order from a judge enforcing their decision. Fewer than 15% of unfair labor practice filings reach this stage, with the vast majority of employers negotiating prior to being brought before a judge.

The anti-union attorney the collective has hired, John C. Hauge, has a long history of fighting workers attempting to win better conditions on the job, and advertises on his FordHarrison profile his ability to help businesses “avoid union incursion.” In the past several years, he has represented employers against multiple unions, such as SEIU, UNITE HERE, and others. In addition to this, he has represented multiple firms fighting charges of sexual harassment and discrimination by female employees, and touts on the same online profile that he has “represented an employer in OSHA administrative action involving an employee fatality, with client completely exonerated of any liability.”

“It’s beyond comprehension that Sisters’ Camelot’s managing collective would be less willing to sit down and work with us, their employees, than to work with someone who makes a living fighting against workers trying to better their work conditions, against female workers battling sexual harassment, even against a family seeking damages for a worker who died on the job,” Said Maria Wessserle, a striking canvasser. “The settlement offer is entirely reasonable. It seems like they’d rather work with someone whose career is based on advancing exploitation, sexism, and racism than admit their mistake. It’s like the principles of the organization have been thrown out the window.”

In an April 22nd facebook post, the managing collective asserted that Hauge was working with them pro-bono, while one from April 20th, most likely written by Hauge, asserted that the National Labor Relations Act does not apply to the canvassers, as, “we believe the evidence demonstrates that Sisters’ Camelot is not an employer – the canvass is made up of independent contractors.”

“While we can’t know for sure, we have to imagine Hauge is offering his services for free in this case for ideological reasons,” said Bobby Becker, a member of the canvasser’s union, “He could just want to put one more notch on his belt, or worse yet, set precedent against the ability of independent contractors to organize under the NLRA.” Such a precedent could affect millions of workers across the country.

While the union is confident that the labor board will find in their favor and rule that the canvassers’ independent contractor status is due to misclassification, the stakes of a loss are such that they are calling on any and all labor unions, workers’ centers, or other groups invested in worker’s rights to demand that Sisters’ Camelot’s managing collective abandon this potentially disastrous course, end their relationship with Hauge, and negotiate to end the 2-month-long strike.

The campaign at Sisters Camelot 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.

National Labor Relations Board finds firing at Sisters’ Camelot illegal, offers settlement

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MINNEAPOLIS– After an investigation into the incident, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has decided that IWW Sisters Camelot Canvass Union (SCCU) member ShugE Mississippi was illegally fired by Sisters’ Camelot. The NLRB (National Labor Relations Board) is a government agency in charge of investigating charges of federal labor law violations, enforcing such laws, and following through with related penalties. After making this decision, the NLRB offered the Sisters’ Camelot managing collective one last chance to accept a settlement agreement before setting a court-date to seek a court order.

The settlement offered by the NLRB includes the immediate rehiring of ShugE Mississippi, paying back wages, and posting a public apology at Sisters’ Camelot. The managing collective has until Tuesday, April 23 to accept this offer. If this settlement offer is not accepted, the NLRB will set a court date and seek a binding order from a judge. If this case is brought before a judge it will significantly increase the legal expenditure for Sisters’ Camelot, as it would be responsible for associated attorney’s fees. Further, Sisters’ Camelot would be obligated to pay even more back wages as more time passes– a likely possibility as judges typically respect decisions made by the NLRB.

In the interest of giving the Sisters’ Camelot managing collective space to think through this decision, the SCCU asks individuals who were planning a nonviolent sit-in demonstration at Monday’s collective meeting to cancel any such plans. The public is always welcome to attend Sisters’ Camelot’s collective meetings, and any individual who wants to observe or engage in respectful dialogue on Monday should feel free to do so. However, the union is explicitly canceling plans of civil disobedience or disruption of and kind, and asks that people please respect that decision so the collective can have healthy discussion about this very important decision.

“This is exciting and encouraging to hear. Once this issue is fixed then we will be one step closer to ending this strike through negotiation with our entire union represented at the bargaining table,” stated Alex Forsey, one of the striking IWW Sisters’ Camelot Canvass Union members.

The campaign at Sisters Camelot 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.

Donate to Food & Retail Workers United campaign at Chicago-Lake Liquors

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On April 1st, 5 workers were fired at Chicago-Lake Liquors, Minnesota’s highest volume liquor store, for asking for better wages. Two days prior, they presented a petition signed by co-workers to management asking for a $1 raise in the starting wage from $8 an hour to $9 an hour, an across the board $1 raise, and a raise in the starting wage from $10.50 an hour to $13.

The five fired workers, Joe Giwoyna, Davis Ritsema, Max Specktor, Arella Vargas, and Hallie Wallace went public as members of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) and Food & Retail Workers United, an organizing committee of the IWW.

They have filed Unfair Labor Practices (ULPs) with the National Labor Relations Board and have been doing actions at Chicago Lake Liquors demanding they be rehired, that their wage demands be met, and that their bosses stop union busting.

Right now, they need your support and solidarity. Until their bosses rehire them or the Labor Board reinstates them, these workers are out of work. They need funds to meet their basic needs They also need funds to continue to organize to put pressure on their boss. Please donate what you can and spread the word.

Solidarity Forever!

WePay Link to Donate

Union exposes wage theft and gross negligence at Sisters’ Camelot, calls for resignation of managing collective

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MINNEAPOLIS– The labor dispute at Sisters’ Camelot took a new turn this week, as serious negligence and illegal activity by the Sisters’ Camelot managing collective was uncovered by the IWW Sisters’ Camelot Canvass Union. On April 10 two canvass union members conducted a routine search on the Minnesota Secretary of State and Attorney General’s websites to access publicly available legal documents. To their surprise, Sisters’ Camelot was not listed on either website, and they placed a call to both departments inquiring why. What they discovered was shocking: Sisters’ Camelot is not listed on these websites because it is not considered a legitimate organization by the state of Minnesota.

Due to the collective’s failure to submit annual filings, the MN Secretary of State dissolved Sisters’ Camelot’s existence as a nonprofit corporation in 2005, and the MN Attorney General’s office revoked Sisters’ Camelot’s ability to legally solicit funds in December 2011. The canvass workers realized the sensitive nature of this information and sought legal advice from a nonprofit attorney on April 12. They were informed that every solicitation of funds made by Sisters’ Camelot since December 2011 was illegal and could carry a fine of up to $25,000 per violation. In that time period, tens of thousands of illegal solicitations were made by unknowing canvassers.

The Attorney General intervened in Sisters’ Camelot twice before: in 2002, the organization was audited and placed on probation for one year; in 2010, it was suspended from soliciting funds for negligence in their annual filing. This latest conflict with the Attorney General is not only the third strike, but is significantly more serious because it has been unaddressed for over a year and carries the possibility of exorbitant fines. Canvassers fear that this will lead to the shutting down of Sisters’ Camelot.

“It has become abundantly clear that the collective has mismanaged Sisters’ Camelot to the point of endangering the organization’s very existence, putting the vital food distribution service at risk,” said Alex Forsey, striking IWW canvasser.

But this is only the beginning of the collective’s mismanagement of the organization. Since October 2012 the collective has withheld rightfully owed pay from the canvassers by concealing donations made online. This violates contractual obligations, which state that canvassers earn a percentage of funds raised from all donors they solicited, regardless of how those donors choose to give. The managing collective has also thus far failed to issue W-9 tax forms to canvassers, making it nearly impossible for them to file their 2012 taxes. Law requires W-9 tax forms to be issued by January 31.

“I am outraged by the shocking negligence and wage theft perpetrated by the collective,” said Tiffany Wicklund, IWW canvasser. “I work very hard at Sisters’ Camelot and deserve all of my income. Further, the services provided by Sisters’ Camelot help keep me and my family food secure, and the collective is endangering that service.”

Finally, the current board of directors did not constitute itself legally. The board of directors is required by law to meet annually to elect a new board (or re-elect itself) and grant power to the executive director, or in this case the collective. The last legally legitimate board of directors went years without this required meeting. In response, this managing collective spontaneously elected some of its own members as the new board of directors; but they failed to notify the previous board, as legally required. Therefore, the power exercised by the current board and managing collective may be found by the Attorney General to be illegitimate.

In light of all this, the IWW Sisters’ Camelot Canvass Union is calling for the immediate resignation of the collective in order to save the organization and its mission. “We feel it is time the managing collective is finally held accountable for what we have discovered to be years of negligence, mismanagement, and lawbreaking. Their actions have put an incredible organization at risk,” said former collective member and current IWW canvasser Bobby Becker.

The canvassers feel an ideal outcome would be for the Attorney General to grant power to the last legal board, who can elect a new board to rectify the current legal impasse and ensure the continuance of Sisters’ Camelot’s mission to “feed the hungry and inspire the world.”

“We are exposing this information and calling for the collective’s resignation so that new, caring, and responsible community members can step forward and be elected as a new board of directors to run Sisters’ Camelot through a time of rebuilding,” said IWW canvasser Maria Wesserle.

“I cannot believe that this situation with the Attorney General has been hanging over our heads this whole time, without our knowing.” said Shuge Mississippi, IWW canvasser. “If nothing else, I am glad that our union drive has uncovered this information, so that we have a chance of saving Sisters’ Camelot.”

The campaign at Sisters Camelot 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.

Short video of second Chicago-Lake Liquors picket

Thanks to Steve Onderick.

The Broken Bottle: Liquor Store Workers’ News Bulletin

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A former liquor store worker and current member of the Food and Retail Workers United (FRWU) wrote this news bulletin about the Chicago-Lake Liquors campaign and working in the industry. We plan on using it for outreach to liquor store workers across the Twin Cities metro area.

The Broken Bottle Vol 1

Call the managing collective of Sisters’ Camelot

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The Sisters’ Camelot Canvass Union has been on strike since March 1st. One of the striking workers was fired while on strike, and they have refused to sit down and negotiate with the union.

Here are the names, phone numbers, & email addresses of each member of the
management of Sisters’ Camelot.

Call, Text, and Email them every day. Here are the talking points and guidelines.

1. Urge them to rehire the fired worker and negotiate with the union.

2. Remind them that the world is watching and knows that they are responsible for this strike.

3. Ask them to resign if they are not willing to negotiate with a union.

4. Please do not make any threats.

The Sisters’ Camelot Collective
Office phone number 612-746-3051
Email Address: sisterscamelot@gmail.com

Clay Hansen: cell phone 612.578.3373
email: clay.hans@gmail.com

Aaron “Muskrat” Barck: cell phone 612.281.8988
email: aaronmbarck@gmail.com

Lisabeth Foster-Bayless: cell phone 612.205.4507

Dave Senn: cell phone 612.296.0677

Clive North: cell phone 612.600.2497

Eric Gooden: landline 612.823.0647

IWW Picket of Chicago-Lake Liquors 4/13/13

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MEET AT NW CORNER OF POWEDERHORN PARK (32nd Ave & 10th St) at 7:45PM

On the week of April 1st, five workers at Chicago-Lake Liquors were fired for respectfully asking management for raises. This is wrong and illegal. All workers have a right to come together to improve their job conditions, and these firings are a clear attack on their rights and dignity.

On April 6th, the five fired workers announced their membership with Food and Retail Workers United (FRWU), an organizing committee of the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) labor union.

Join us for the second picket of Chicago-Lake, demanding that management

-Rehire the 5 fired workers
-Pay a living wage to all employees
-Stop union busting

Short video of last week’s picket and interview with one of the fired organizers
http://youtu.be/37N73QAcQr8

City Pages article on the situation
http://blogs.citypages.com/blotter/2013/04/chicago_lake_liquors_employees_petition_for_raises_five_fired_two_days_later.php

Press release from last week
http://tcorganizer.com/2013/04/06/iww-liquor-store-workers-fired-for-union-activity/

 

Facebook event: http://www.facebook.com/events/219183161539506/

Sisters’ Camelot management refuses deal with union, says they are “not anxious to end strike”

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The I.W.W. Sisters’ Camelot Canvass Union has been on strike now for 39 days, since management refused to recognize their right to unionize and negotiate with the worker’s union. Last week the striking worker’s union offered management a package deal in hopes of ending the strike and returning to work. In this deal all issues related to pay were taken off the table, leaving only the bare minimum terms needed by the workers to have enough workplace democracy to end the strike. This offer included 8 of the original 18 terms of unionization intended to be worked out at the negotiating table.

Since the canvassers at Sisters Camelot went public as a union, the management has simply refused to attempt any negotiation to recognize the workers right to be unionized, and even illegally fired a union member in retaliation. This last deal was an attempt by the canvass union to offer the management the easiest possible deal for them to accept so canvassers can return to work and continue discussion about the issues they took off the table at a later time.

The management of Sisters’ Camelot flatly refused the offer at their meeting on Monday, April 8, making it clear that they are unwilling to recognize their workers’ most basic right to organize into a union.

“This deal was the easiest thing we could possibly offer them to end the strike. It’s clear now that the management simply has no interest in having unionized workers. This makes it clear that the management of Sisters’ Camelot is anti-union and against workplace democracy,” said Bobby Becker, one of the striking union members, in response to the news.

Dave Senn, a member of management stated, “I am not anxious to end the strike,” showing disregard for the workers basic right to unionize.

“With this offer we made an attempt to compromise. We made a statement that we are willing to end this strike if the management simply recognizes our union and concedes just to basic issues of workplace democracy. We asked for no raises, no vacation or sick pay, and no influence in anything in Sisters’ Camelot other than basic democratic control over our own working conditions. By saying no to this offer the managing collective is spitting in the face of the values of anti-authoritarianism, respect for autonomy, and democratic equality that Sister’ Camelot has always espoused as their core values. The managing collective is exactly what they were crated by the board to prevent. Eric Gooden, Clay Hansen, David Senn, Lisabeth Foster-Bayless, Aaron “Muskrat” Barck, & Clive North have done wrong by the community, hijacked Sisters’ Camelot, and need to be held accountable,” said shugE Mississippi, striking worker and founding member of the Sisters’ Camelot managing collective.

The union’s stance is now the same as it has been during this entire strike: the managing collective can rehire the fired worker and negotiate with the union at any time, which would bring us closer to ending this strike

The campaign at Sisters’ Camelot 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.

Below is an exact copy of the recent offer from the IWW Sisters Camelot Canvass Union, which the management has refused:

We have a proposal to end this strike. In this proposal we have already set aside everything that we are willing to concede as negotiable. Everything left is our terms of unionization. This means we are not open to a counter-proposal.

You can choose to agree to this proposal and end the strike at any time starting now. If you choose to reject this proposal or not agree to it by the end of April 8, then not only will the NLRB investigation into an illegal firing continue– but we will file more filings of Unfair Labor Practices for the NLRB to investigate. This means investigation into every time a national labor law was broken since we went public as a union– which includes every time a collective member asked a union member about our demands, any surveillance of us that was conducted, and every time the collective offered us any type of concession instead of sitting down to negotiate with the union.

When you agree to this proposal, then we will retract the NLRB
investigation into the illegal firing (unless the NLRB has already made their ruling– which could happen at any time from now on), we will not file any further ULP’s with the NLRB, we will end the strike, we will return to work and we will declare this a victory for all of Sisters’ Camelot. We will also agree to go back, and talk to the community members we contacted during the strike and tell them that the strike is over because negotiations succeeded with good faith effort on both sides.

For this all to happen you must rehire the fired worker and agree to all of the following non-negotiable terms for our unionization.

The terms of our unionization are:

1. Union Representative on the collective.

Rotating, everyone in union will take turns. Can only vote or block on canvass related issues.

2. Co-Canvass Coordinators, Field Managers, & canvassers do not need to join the collective to do their jobs.

The accountability aspect between the canvass operation and collective will shift to the union representative on the collective.

3. Democratic election of 2 Co-Canvass Coordinators.

Terms will last 3 months. All card-carrying members of the IWW Sisters Camelot Canvassers Union in good standing, who have worked 15 shifts or more during the prior 3 month term have voting rights. The collective will be allowed to cast a ballot in this election.

4. Decentralization of office tasks & Canvass Coordination pay.

The Co-Canvass Coordinators are responsible for getting tasks done to run the canvass that do not get done by other members of the canvass. Ultimately anyone who wants to should be trained up to have the ability to complete any and all of the individual takes necessary to run the canvass, if needed to. As a democratically run union of Sisters’ Camelot canvassers we will itemize these tasks and decide how much of the Canvass Coordination pay is alloted for each task. Canvass Coordination budget (all of these tasks including Co-Canvass Coordinator and Field Manager pay) will be the same as previous Canvass Director pay was before unionization.

5. Hiring & Firing Committee & closed union shop.

All new hires must join the union upon meeting criteria for having a vote at our 3-month elections. Hiring and firing committee will consist of 3 elected union members (elected at the same 3-month election). One additional member of this committee will be appointed by the collective. 
This committee will operate by consensus. This committee will be in charge of all interviews, hiring, firing, and disciplinary actions
regarding canvassers. Any firing will not be final until a secret ballot of all Canvasser Union Members upholds it by a majority vote. This committee will also be in charge of actively seeking out and recruiting quality new canvassers.

We will always strive to be open to people who want to canvass less frequent than required for union membership. Ultimately the hiring & firing committee reserves the right to deny such people who abuse our openness.

6. Professional van maintenance.

We will always strive to use an internal mechanic to keep the van in working order, but the Co-Canvass Coordinators will have the final say when the van is needed to be fixed by outside professionals.

7. Co-Canvass Coordinators have final say in who runs individual canvass shifts.

8. Medical bills are paid by Sisters’ Camelot for all on-the-job injuries.