Video by Carlos Broun.
On Saturday June 4th TCDSA performed the first local Sip-In for organizing Starbucks workers. A Sip-In (adapted from “sit-in”) is an event that has been organized across the country by DSA chapters to support locations organizing with Starbucks Workers United. Comrades visit a location and hold space, rally, and encourage workers as a group. These are casual, social events that promote the confidence of workers that neighbors in the community have their back.
We carpooled out to the first location in Eden Prairie, MN where we were joined by 12 TCDSA members and spouses/acquaintances. We heard from workers that support in this location is looking strong for the coming vote! We chatted with a few workers, and received some curiosity about DSA. We ended this visit with a photo, which we would do at each subsequent location.
Our second stop was in Bloomington at the Mall Of America 1st floor location, right on a large rotunda known for hosting fashion shows, boy bands and a famous Black Lives Matter sit in a few Christmases ago. The lead worker at this location was ready to receive us, and other workers pumped their fists on our arrival! This store feels that their vote will be nearly unanimous. At this stop we were joined by 3 former workers at this location from the 2000s who attempted and subsequently failed to organize the shop with IWW. They had faced retaliation, wrongful terminations, reinstatements and hardship. They were so excited by the current organizing wave that one of them, a NYCDSA Member, flew into the cities just for this event! We began to rouse our participants to step outside for the location photo. While waiting, it was suggested that we take a quick lap around the rotunda, we had all these small signs of support, buttons and T-shirts after all! It was a brisk conga line loop, no chanting nor speaking. However as soon as we stepped outside the store with messages in hand, Mall Security had taken an interest. By the time we returned to the storefront a minute later and snapped our group photo, we found 8 uniformed individuals letting us know we were being excused from the premises for our “protest”! In conversation making our way out I asked their lead if they’re unionized. The reply was, “No, they won’t let us do that.” What a contrast, these forces of authority felled by being told they can’t, while young Baristas just steps away are bravely taking on a billion dollar multinational corporation! When we arrived at the parking garage our escorts let us know we were also banned from the premises for 24 hours.
We headed off, late now, to the 3rd location at 5351 Lyndale Ave S in Minneapolis. Again we had a large group of about 13, including some neighborhood DSAers ready for our caravan’s arrival. Conversations at this location revealed that they weren’t as certain of overwhelming support. There’s a split, with a tenured contingent that developed company loyalty, and newer employees. There have been some captive audience meetings. Yet this location still estimated their support at a 75/25 split in favor of the Union!
As we closed the event we noted that the first round has been won by the workers, but we all need to be ready to turn out when the company gets off the mat, which so far they’ve struggled to do- but bargaining looms and is a brand new fight. Our TCDSA contingent is ready to back our neighbors in Minneapolis, St. Paul, and surrounding areas in any fight that comes. After today, we know that message was made clear.
Eric Hart, TCDSA Labor Branch Organizing Committee Member