WHO: Sunergos Workers, Customers, Greater Louisville Central Labor Council, Kentucky AFL-CIO, other unions and allies.
WHAT: Press Conference & Rally
WHEN: Monday, November 20 at 1:00 PM
WHERE: SEIU NFCO 32BJ, 4100 Churchman Ave, Louisville, KY 40215
(Louisville-KY) Recently unionized baristas at Sunergos Coffee, will join labor allies and customers at a rally to announce they could strike at any moment during the busy holiday season over the company’s refusal to bargain in good faith. In a show of solidarity, customers will also declare their intent to boycott the coffee chain, while the Greater Louisville Central Labor Council and Kentucky AFL-CIO will announce commitments to financially support the striking workers.
“Louisville is a union town and Sunergos is just part of a larger national labor movement, said Clove Harrington (they/them), Sunergos worker and Bargaining Committee Member. “We’re excited that labor and other unions are supporting us. Workers everywhere are standing up for what we need and deserve – we’re all in this together.”
Sunergos is the second largest coffee chain in Louisville, with five locations and over 63 employees. Starting wages for workers are an abysmal $8.25 an hour with few, if any benefits. This January, Sunergos workers voted to form a union with 32BJ SEIU, joining the national wave of labor uprisings among baristas at Starbucks, Heine Brothers Coffee, and other coffee stores.
“Sunergos workers have stuck together, fighting for what they believed in. They voted to be in a union, and now we vow to stand with them in solidarity until they win everything they ask for,” said Todd Dunn, President, Louisville Central Labor Council and President, United Auto Workers Local 862. “When UAW workers were on strike, our entire community was not only behind us; they walked with us. As the labor family here in Louisville, we will walk with Sunergos workers until they get the respect they deserve at the bargaining table.”
The announcement follows months of efforts by workers to make progress on a contract. In June, both Sunergos and Starbucks workers went on strike to protest the companies’ refusal to negotiate contract agreements and retaliation against union supporters.
Last Monday, workers filed another unfair labor practice charge against Sunergos, alleging the company is violating their guaranteed right to collectively negotiate a contract for their wages, benefits, and other job standards. Outrageously, the coffee chain has flat out rejected basic job protections known as “just cause”, a standard provision in any contract agreement that protects unionized workers from arbitrary or unjust discipline and termination.
“I hope that the customer boycott shows the company how much support we have from our customers. We wouldn’t have been able to make it this far without their support. We are so thankful to be able to lean on our community as we fight for what we need,” said Bekah Jarboe (they/them) Sunergos Worker & Bargaining Committee Member.
“It’s amazing to know that the community we’re a part of has our backs,” added Harrington. “Knowing that our friends and former coworkers are still with us and still committed just goes to show the ‘power of community’ that Sunergos take so much pride in.”
With more than 175,000 members in 12 states and Washington DC, 32BJ SEIU is the largest property service workers union in the country.