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.