What is workplace democracy and how can the union put it into practice?

According to the Center for Learning in Action at Williams College, "Workplace democracy is generally understood as the application of democratic practices, such as voting, debate and participatory decision-making systems, to the workplace." (https://learning-in-action.williams.edu/breaking-the-mold/what-is-workplace-democracy)

In our workplace, while you can ask for a raise or a change in conditions, management holds the unilateral power to make changes. They can always delay, say no, or make empty promises. Many of us share experiences like this. In the current structure there is no way for you to advocate for your coworkers or to work together to change policy, conditions, or pay. Management wants to keep it that way.

Our union is formed around the idea of solidarity, worker power, and workplace democracy. All union policies and contracts are subject to majority approval.

In upcoming contract negotiations we will employ a high transparency, high participation approach, bucking traditional union strategies that rely primarily on paid professionals and outside legal counsel. Our approach begins with the lived experiences of workers at different stores and will engage the entire unionized workforce in the decision-making process. This approach calls for a much larger than normal set of elected worker-organizers as the primary contract negotiating team. The union is you and your coworkers, not some outside force. Here is a link to an article describing how this might work: https://laborcenter.berkeley.edu/turning-the-tables-participation-and-power-in-negotiations/

We do not expect the costs of this negotiation process to exceed the capacity of our growing crowdfunding, community support, and mutual aid network. We have spoken to lawyers, employed free community resources, and are connected to necessary legal resources to move forward.

I want a union contract, but do I have to wait 500 days? 

No, not in a lot of cases. Much of the delay in reaching a first contract is entirely dependent on company management. We will bring real issues and real concerns and the company may stall and delay. The time it takes to reach a first contract also varies widely from union to union and from industry to industry. Some of the industries that take take the most time are healthcare, financial services, and information technology. Retail, hospitality, and transportation tend towards much shorter negotiating periods.

How much are union dues and what will they go towards?

We will not implement any dues policy until we have approved a new union contract and any dues policy will require approval by a majority of union membership.

We will, after a contract is negotiated and approved by membership, begin collecting dues for legal aid, new organizing, and member trainings. We are a new, independent, and largely DIY union that does not have nearly the same expanse of resource needs as a larger union. Many of these major unions have dues that hover around 1-2% of earnings.

Am I allowed to talk about the union at work?

Yes. The National Labor Relations Act protects your right to discuss the union and wear a union button. Anyone trying to limit or prohibit your right to freely discuss the union, even when on the clock, is breaking the law. The NLRB says it is an unfair labor practice to "prohibit employees from talking about the union during working time, if you permit them to talk about other non-work-related subjects." Because Tiff's does not prohibit any other topics of speech during working hours it is illegal for them to target union related speech. (https://www.nlrb.gov/about-nlrb/rights-we-protect/the-law/interfering-with-employee-rights-section-7-8a1)

Why Form a Union?

Unions begin with you. A labor union is an organization formed by workers who join together and use their collective strength to have a voice in their workplace. With a union, workers have the ability to negotiate with employers from a position of strength over wages, benefits, workplace safety conditions, and other issues. Unions are a valuable tool to hold management accountable and to ensure that workers are treated with dignity and respect. Your rights to organize, join, and discuss a union with your coworkers are guaranteed by law.

In the United States, workers who are union members earn 26.2% more than non-union workers. This difference is even greater for women and people of color. Women and African Americans represented by unions earn around 30% more than their non-union counterparts. Latino workers with the union advantage make 47.1% more than those not represented by unions [afscme127.org]. These economic benefits are so strong that they even improve pay and economic mobility for non-union members and children of union members [edlabor.house.gov]. Union members of color possess almost five times the median wealth of non-union counterparts [americanprogress.org]. That all translates to an average of $191 more per week for union workers. Union workers are also much more likely to have employer provided pensions or healthcare [aflcio.org/what-unions-do].

Unions in the past fought for things we now take for granted, like the 40 hour work week and the weekend. In recent years, though, unions have come under attack. As union membership has fallen, the share of wealth hoarded by the top has continued to grow at an unprecedented pace. With a recession, a pandemic, rising cost of living and expanding inflation, we need a union now more than ever.

In the United States, companies spend billions every year on anti-union PR campaigns and employers are charged with violating labor law in 41.5% of union election campaigns [epi.org]. Tiff’s Treats is a $500 million company that plans on having 2000 stores nationwide. They are afraid of a union because it means more of the value we create staying in our pockets. We have already filed federal unfair labor practice charges against Tiff’s for suppressing our right to organize. We expect management to engage in a campaign of misinformation in order to drive us apart. We believe that unions and management both ultimately share a common interest in continued growth and good relations. That is our commitment and our goal.

The first step is to get at least 30% of your store to sign our anonymous union petition which triggers a secret-ballot election by the National Labor Relations Board. If a majority votes for union representation, then the union become certified to bargain collectively with management for better pay, benefits, and conditions.

Sign our anonymous union petition and change your store for the better!
Below are a few links we have compiled to help you learn about your rights as a worker, union organizing, and the benefits of unionizing.