The long and the short of it is that at some point last year, some disgruntled baristas and bakers at local coffee haven, JJ Bean, got together and tried to form a union, petitioning for what they vaguely addressed as better work-place conditions. Being friends with several anti-union advocates placed in the company, as well as being an ex-employee, fired with extreme prejudice, I felt I had a unique take on the matter. This was my letter to the forming union. It makes my own greatest hits of 2011 list.
"Okkkaaay assholes. Here’s a couple facts: 1. I worked at JJ Bean and was fired. 2. The only reason to have a union, like a few people have said here already, is to gain job security. Anyone who works for JJ Bean in a cafe has as much job security as they deserve for shelling out coffee with no fucking bathing mandate. Not only that, you’re getting paid a fair enough wage for the menial job you’re doing, AND, the intangible value of working for 11 bucks an hour for a company like JJ BEAN is worth an extra buck or two an hour. Seriously, when was the last time you got sent home for smelling like the Alf House? Never. That’s worth money. You can wear whatever you want and fucking drink free coffee all month. You can treat customers like assholes if they’re assholes. That’s worth fucking money too. You know how much fucking money I spend at Starbucks a month now since I quit that job? Like $100 a month.
It’s not the fucking Creative Director for fucking American Apparel. It’s a fucking coffee job. You bring no skills to the table that can’t be replaced by tomorrow. That’s the main point here. Let’s think for a minute, about what would happen in a negotiation between Neto, John and the union leader, let’s call her Beshele. The union would say we wanna go on strike for higher wages and better conditions, whatever they might be. And the employer, John and Neto, would say hmmm, well we could either give you what you want or hire someone to replace your ass by tomorrow. It’s not even a choice. THIS UNION WOULD HAVE NO BARGAINING POWER. You sell coffee for more than selling coffee is worth already.
On the issue of Job Security: Everyone has three written warnings, so what’s the issue here? You wanna smoke dope on the job without reprimand? Dudes go on tour, and come back after a month and get their job back no problem. That’s beyond secure employment.
On this issue of unions in JJ Bean: I’m not fully against it. Drivers at JJ Bean should have a driver’s union. Myself and Dan were kicking that idea around while we were both employed as drivers, as we did bring a skill to the table that was not replaceable tomorrow, and given the company’s track record with employing clowns for drivers, myself included, it was not too far fetched to think they’d continue along that same path if all the drivers suddenly didn’t show up to work for a week.
I was under-paid for the job and risk I incurred on the job. I got paid the same as a cafe supervisor and I actually almost died like 3 times in 5 months. I was hit by on-coming 18-wheeler once, and a bus once too. I almost killed many pedestrians. I had to get out of the truck and fucking yell at people every day. I injured my leg and had back problems relating to my job. I had to fucking operate a fork-lift. And I got paid less than fucking Mike LeRoy. Like 5 bucks less, per hour. That guy can’t even smile.
I had many legitimate complaints for management, and when I went to Neto with my concerns he always made an effort to sort me out fairly. I never feared that speaking out about work place grievances would jeopardize my employment.
If you have a legitimate complaint, JJ Bean will fairly address it. But you have no legitimate complaint. With or without a union you have no bargaining power, so all a union will do is walk you right out of a job.
If you don’t like your shitty job, get a new one that pays more and affords you more intangible leeway.
@evanwansbrough on twitter bitches.
PS, Besh, I would have totally signed the petition even though I don’t think a union would help you improve conditions for cafe staff.”