Newly organized workers are talking about why it’s important to join a union

‘Labor has your backs’ AFL-CIO’s Shuler stresses


WORKERS SPEAK OUT – Cannabis and Starbucks workers in New Jersey (at left) meeting with AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler (center right) prior to a news conference last week discussing why they felt it was important to be union members. – AFL-CIO photo

“It’s your time, and your time now.”

With that comment, a national press conference lauding the energized efforts of Starbucks and cannabis workers across America to unionize kicked off a news conference sponsored by the New Jersey AFL-CIO to highlight the benefits of workers organizing into unions.

With AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy and newly organized cannabis worker members of United Food & Commercial Workers Local 360 and Starbucks Workers United, New Jersey AFL-CIO President Charlie Wowkanech opened the press conference with the essential point: “Workers deserve what the bosses are getting: better wages, health care, decent working conditions and respect on the job.”

And that point is the key to why in St. Louis UFCW Local 655 has organized the first two in Missouri cannabis dispensaries, Root 55 South Grand, and in O’Fallon.

Carlos Paul, a worker at Cannabist Deptford Dispensary in Deptford Township, N.J., which recently organized with Local 360, said the decision to unionize came down to the issue of fairness.

“Companies are growing, making huge profits, workers should get a part of that. For many of us, it’s not just a job, it’s a lifelong career,” and companies should recognize that and provide for their workforce, he said.

Noting that he and fellow workers experienced anti-union efforts to dissuade them from joining the union, he called for stronger efforts to protect workers from companies’ anti-union pressure tactics like mandatory meetings.

Bella Griep, a Starbucks worker in Hamiton Township, N.J., said that workers are “showing everyone what can be done when working people can take on corporate giants and win.

“I used to brag about how well Starbucks treated partners. However, at some point corporate apparently stopped being interested in partner perspective and once we stopped being heard working conditions worsened and worsened. It became clear that we were only partners by name.

“Starbucks Workers United finally gives us a voice again,” she said. “It feels like we actually have a say in the direction of the company and we are very grateful for the support that we have.”

“This is your moment, workers are showing everyone what can be done when they organize, that they can take on the corporate giants and win,”  said AFL-CIO President Shuler.

“These young workers have shown courage. They are brave folks who stood up and spoke out.

“Because workers are fed up with companies making billions a year but cannot afford to pay decent wages, affordable health insurance…they can afford to pay their CEO’s big wages and bonuses but can’t afford a decent wage for their workers!

“It takes so much courage to stand up and speak out”

Shuler said workers are fed up with low wages, benefits that are unaffordable, hours that are insufficient and schedules that are unpredictable.. “You can’t plan your life, your budget, how to provide for your family…all across America workers are fed up and they are not going to take it anymore!

“The Labor Movement has your back,” she said. “Work is changing…we want to ensure you have jobs with good wages, benefits, protections.”

New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy, a strong supporter of Labor, said: “Organized Labor built our middle class… you are our future. You came together for yourselves and your families.”



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