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Calendula restaurant fires four staff for organizing a strike...Calendula vs IWW

I'm wondering why there has been no open discussion on this issue. It would be nice to hear both Craig Rosebraugh and the workers sides of the story ?
Oregonian Saturday August 14th....Restaurant firing Bring Union Action

A labor-union has accused Calendula,an all vegetarian restaurant owned by former Environmental Liberation Front spokesman Craig Rosebraugh of violating federal labor laws by firing four workers after they announced a strike.
The international workers of the world local 640, known as the wobblies, filed a charge with the national labor relations board last week,accusing the restaurant of firing three servers and a floor manager after they declared a strike july 28th.

Katharine Atkinson,the ex-floor manager, said the restaurant has cut wages and withheld promised medical insurance and gym benefits while expanding seating and demanding more of the staff.

She said the actions run contrary to Calendula's pledge in it's employee handbook of repsonsible business practices.

Rosebraugh did not return a call seeking comment.
a small correction 16.Aug.2004 10:43

former wob

The reference to the international workers of the world is incorrect. Their true name is Industrial Workers of the World. Thanks

that's not what I heard from another employee 16.Aug.2004 12:29

CaptainPlanet

This wkend I was talking w/ a friend who works at Calendula, she said that several (non-union) workers walked off the job at about 5P on a busy evening, when their (same-day, if I recall) demands weren't met right away. This resulted in the restaurant closing for the day because there weren't enough staff. They then went to the IWW hall, and have since tried to claim unemployment, after QUITTING! Seems pretty unreasonable to me.

indymedia shouldnt provide a forum for the boss and thier union busting lies 16.Aug.2004 12:44

worker

indymedia shouldnt provide a forum for the boss and their union busting lies

Onthe 16.Aug.2004 12:45

Mark

Just walking out without notice is not organizing a strike. That is just being irresponsible. If that is what happened.

another correction 16.Aug.2004 12:46

clamydia

It's the "earth liberation front", not the "environmental liberation front". Ya big dumb jerk. Check your facts before you post.

What constitutes a strike. 16.Aug.2004 12:50

Sizzler

"Just walking out without notice is not organizing a strike. That is just being irresponsible. If that is what happened."

That's called a 'wildcat strike,' and although they're usually a last resort, they have been used effectively numerous times (most recently in a Californian truck drivers strike).

so, should IMC only provide a forum 16.Aug.2004 12:54

for workers' lies about employers?

Maybe "worker" hasn't thought of this: those still working at Calendula are trying to make a living, just as the ones who earlier walked off their jobs. Whatever hurts the popularity of the restaurant hurts them, as they will work less and earn fewer tips. They are workers too. Ever thought of that?

As far as boss's lies on Indymedia, I doubt that anyone who has posted so far actually is directly involved with Calendula, or they'd have a lot more detail to present.

OK, a Wildcat Strike 16.Aug.2004 12:58

not a dumbass

A "strike" is what union workers do, I heard what happened was basically a temper tantrum. They wanted to become IWW and retroactively "strike". Pretty stupid if you ask me. Maybe someone actually involved will finally post with the whole story, but as I understand it they just pitched a fit when they didn't get their way with no time for management to consider, on a busy day, and left.

re: Sizzler 16.Aug.2004 13:20

Mark

"Just walking out without notice is not organizing a strike. That is just being irresponsible. If that is what happened."

That's called a 'wildcat strike,' and although they're usually a last resort, they have been used effectively numerous times (most recently in a Californian truck drivers strike).

---

I trust you can see the difference between California Truck Drivers having a surprise walkout in an ongoing dispute and a some people at a small restaurant walking out as a first resort.

If Calendula is typical of new restaurants, it is barely breaking even, or even losing money and struggling to survive. Shutting the restaurant down for a day is a big financial hit, especially since by 5 a lot of food would have been prepared. Workers who are committed to the success of a business and feel they are not getting justly compensated for that commitment, would not take a potentially financially crippling action as a first resort. That is why I called it irresponsible.

Now the post by Captain Planet may be incorrect and thus this discussion would be moot.

Union Workers 16.Aug.2004 13:20

Lucy Parsons

You don't have to pay dues to an enormous organization to be a "Union Worker." You just have to act in a united way with your coworkers. After (or before) acts of solidarity and power, you're allowed to affiliate with the IWW, the ILWU, the UFCW, whatever. But you can be a union without those structures, too.

I've fought for Rosebraugh's rights when he's been subpoenaed before grand juries. I've stood alongside him in various struggles, from supporting Mumia to supporting the planet. But I'm appalled at his conduct if these rumors of retaliation against workers are true. Whose side are you on?

me also 16.Aug.2004 13:48

chops

talked to one of the people who works there
captain planets post is the same story i got

Don't jump to conclusions 16.Aug.2004 13:49

Treat

Hey Lucy,

You gotta give respect to get respect.

I am on the side of sound ethical behavior. There are plenty of workers who act like jerks, or do destructive things so I am not automatically on the side of the worker (though my sympathies lie that way). Particularly in a small business which is a sole proprietorship where the owner is the hardest working person in the place (and probably gets paid the least).

I am going to wait for clear information before passing judgement (if I'll pass judgement at all). I suggest you do the same.

what led to our action: 16.Aug.2004 14:28

servers fired for striking

Please take notice that we(the servers) were organizing together before we actually went on strike.

Mission Statement for Calendula Café:

"At Calendula, we are committed to a healthy and ethical business for you (the customer), for the environment, and for our staff. Beyond our menu, we are committed to responsible business practices... .we believe in health and longevity not only for our customers and our staff, but also for the natural environment."



There is a reason why we all wanted to work at Calendula and to be a part of what we thought the restaurant is trying to create, it is because of statements exactly like the one shown above promising things to us (the employees) and to the community. But as far as wait staff at Calendula Café are concerned all of those things have become a façade. The things that were promised to the employees are thing that we feel every employee should have such as health care, competitive wages, a voice in the work place, good working conditions, and a safe and healthy work environment. At one point or another during the last six months all of these elements have felt lost to the wait-staff at Calendula Café.

The last six months have been spent helping Craig to build Calendula, meanwhile as Calendula seems to be getting more and more popular we have noticed the lack of respect for our hard work growing more and more present. Craig has not come through with any of the things he has promised to us. In return for our hard work he has lowered our wages, with the expectation that we will do more work for lower wages. He has also decided that he cannot afford health care benefits for his employees, even though it is stated in our handbook that we would be eligible after ninety days. Craig has also proven that he wants to profit off of us by taking away our free shift meal and beverage. He is now offering 25% off a meal and beverage while on shift.

This is not an attack on Craig Rosenbraug as a person or his political perspectives. This is a statement to address our right as community members to be heard by our community and by our employer. Any time we have tried to voice our concerns to Craig individually it has been met with disciplinary action or with simple disregard. More than anything we want to negotiate with our employer to make Calendula a truly great place to be for the employees and the customers. After all if the servers at Calendula are not happy in the work place this will indeed influence the customers. We are asking that Calendula hold to the promises that it has made to the community, its customers, and most of all, to us, those who do the work and have invested interest in the success of the business.

We realize the financial borders may make it difficult to fulfill the promises he made to us. However our greatest issue lies in the lack of respect that Craig has given to us. We are willing to talk with Craig about these respect issues, we have in fact already made a strong effort to do so. Our efforts have been met with Craig's irreverence to the issue. So we have been forced to take collective action to get Craig's full attention to help him understand that this issue will not just go away and that we as a group are interested in Calendula's future. We are asking that Craig do the right thing; negotiate with us, the people that have help build up his restaurant. We are hoping that we can move past these issues and prove to the community and ourselves how strong Calendula Café really is. Something needs to be done to develop camaraderie and morale in a restaurant that's main objective is to promote a health conscious community. We are asking your help in this issue to support us on our mission to improve Calendula Café.

had some friends who worked there 16.Aug.2004 14:40

q

heard that employees are treated pertty shitilly, at calendual I sure wouldn't want to work there. but a reasturant workers union is a great idea and if your boss is pushing you around as well as making empty promises I say shut the fucker down by any means available. DOWN WITH WAGE SLAVERY!!!

sticky situation 16.Aug.2004 16:30

worker2

It would be wise to carefully consider all the facts in this case. New small businesses (especially restaurants) are very fragile and the loss of this place would be a loss to all involved.
From what I understand, everyone was pretty stressed out right before this happened. The restaurant was losing $2000 a week! If this is true then the financial books will show the valid needs for cuts everywhere. Craig hasn't gotten paid at all for over 2 months in order to make ends meet. No profit there. The expansion and such was needed to try and pull the restaurant out of the nose dive it is/was in. I could just imagine that there was some toes being stepped on and grumpiness going around. I can also see how frustrating it would be to lose benefits and wages in the midst of all this stress. I'm sure there's lots of hurt feelings and personal stuff on all sides due to the fact that you get so close when working in a small restaurant(or any small business for that matter), especially when the stakes are so high. That is the nature of any business, co-op or otherwise. For many co-ops in the beginning no one gets paid for a while. While I think it was probably unwise for Craig to make such big promises right at the beginning of starting up a small business, I would strongly hesitate to see it as intentional. He probably should have set it up as a goal instead. So that as the restaurant little by little does better these things could have been implemented. Furthermore, "shutting down" the restaurant would be insensetive to the people who still work there and clearly need the job. I'm not quite sure what the answer should be. All I'm saying is that people should think long and hard before doing anything rash.

Bosses are Bosses 16.Aug.2004 17:06

.

Bosses are bosses and workers are workers. Unless the venture is a co-op type venture (and why wasn't Calendula set up that way?), there you go. Regardless of Craig's radical past, he's a boss now and needs to be dealt with as such. Collective action on the part of the workers is the tool.

Typical liberal boss stuff 16.Aug.2004 17:25

fred thompson

This thread is fairly typical of liberal bosses who are anti union; powells or ACORN anyone? Also, it is funny how all the attacks are demanding that the workers justify an action, while not demanding that C.R. be held accountable in the community. I know I will be asking a local anarchist bookstore to boycot this materials until he recognizes the union.

Calendula is NOT a co-op!! 16.Aug.2004 17:30

a

Hey worker2- Calendula is very far from a co-operative, it is a shame that the only current vegan restaurant is run by a man who has said that he would rather shut down his establishment, then to discuss these issues with his employees. But hopefully something good will come out of this, maybe a co-op type vegan restaurant can be created by people in the community.
True Calendula was not making a profit but everyone in restaurant business knows owners usually do not make a profit in the first year.

so it goes 16.Aug.2004 17:45

Hot-n-Cranky

"The last six months have been spent helping Craig to build Calendula, meanwhile as Calendula seems to be getting more and more popular"

Doesn't matter if it is getting more popular, from accounts posted here it is losing lots of money. That is the harsh reality. It is quite possible that the restaurant will go out of business. You certainly are not helping it. This sentence is bullshit because you know damn well what the situation is so don't make it sound like the restaurant is doing fine in order to make yourselves look like victims.

"Craig has not come through with any of the things he has promised to us. In return for our hard work he has lowered our wages, with the expectation that we will do more work for lower wages."

It is not in return for your hard work, it is because the place is losing money. If the place was making money, you would be getting the things that were promised. If the place goes under everyone is laid off regardless of how hard they worked. That is life. You sound like spoiled kids. Unless you can show how the place is really making lots of money, then you are just wasting peoples time. One comment mentions that Craig hasn't been paid in two months and he is probably working long exhausting hours.

You can either accept the situation, or go get another job, but for God's sake stop whining!

? 16.Aug.2004 18:23

?

Yeah, bosses are bosses. No difference between the CEO of Coke Inc and a small business owner who works hard. Yup, they are all the vile enemy.

Of course restaurants lose money 16.Aug.2004 19:17

for their first year (or five)...

...and that's why anyone starting a business should factor that in. If you can't pay your workers whil losing money for a year, then don't start a capitalist enterprise. It's as simple as that.

And the owner can either accept the situation, or get an honest job himself! He had, clearly, plenty of money to restore a historic building -- why can't he give his workers one free meal? He had plenty of decent ideals when he started the cafe -- why can't he offer to make it a co-op? [There are plenty of working models of transition here in town, from the Flying Saucer/Red and Black to Q is for Choir.]

And, if you didn't listen, the workers' main demand is that the boss respect them. That means dealing honestly, sitting down and negotiating, asking workers to participate in choosing hard cuts if necessary, and not threatening to call the cops on them. (Geez, you'd think that Craig didn't remember getting his arm broken by the Portland Police.)

A poor capitalist too 16.Aug.2004 23:25

a veteran restaurant worker

Any cafe owner knows that the biggest expense is labor, not cost of goods. It is moronic that C.R. can't kick down for a shift meal. What's more is that ingredients for vegetarian items are even less at cost then meat based products. Even McShit gives free meals to their employees.

If he is at good at dodging questions during negotiations with his employees as he is with questions from the audience challenging his shallow views, he'd better get crackin' on learning how to deal with a union in a respecful manner.Otherwise, he will cut off his nose to spite his face.

w/o contract its justifiable 17.Aug.2004 01:58

ffff

Unless there is a written contract between both parties agreeing to responsibilities that were actually met, I would consider it completely moral and upstanding choice for anyworker to walk off the job if their needs or requests for compensation of their work are not immediately met. Similarly if any employers needs or requests for work are not met and are not specifically listed otherwise, I respect their decision to ask the worker to leave, to fire them. Either way the worker is selling their time and energy to the employer and either one is unhappy with how its going, its better the unhappy situation stop, and either be rectified or terminated, than if it drag on, without result or resolution.
If the boss has failed to deliver on verbal promises, that deserves a walkout, especially when there is no written contract binding the employee to work even when there is a disagreement.

Think about it, if you are going to sell your time, passion, energy, and compentency to someone and they wouldn't pay you what you agreed or what you think you deserve, why on earth should you stick around?
Just cause someone is the boss doesn't mean they make good business decisions.
In fact many analyses have shown that incompetence ends up being the boss because the people who want to get stuff done can't stand having an incompetent around.
Not to say that this particular boss is incompetent, just that there is empirical justification for worker control.

The wait staff interacts with the customers. Chances are they know what its gonna take to make the customers happy and want to come back and eat again. They likely also know a lot about how best to organize the work.
So...if this boss ignored that, then there is good reason to believe that in the long run, this walkout really helped the business by bringing attention to situations that needed addressing.
Like, shitty paid staff tend not to be very customer friendly,
or fried and tired staff tend to drop more plates,
or hungry staff tend to confuse orders....etc etc.

point being don't assume someone walking off a job (even temporarily) is a bad thing....we all need to change things from time to time


The WORST thing I ever experienced was while standing in an informational picket line with hotel cleaning ladies in a major city.

We were holding signs and passing flyers to pedestrians and patrons explaining that the management wanted to increase the workload of the cleaning staff to 18 rooms/8hour shift with no flexibility, a doc in pay for everything less than 18 rooms in an 8hour shift and the ability to avoid overtime if the staff chose to stick around past 8 hours to finish the 18 rooms in order to avoid the pay cut.

It was pretty desparate. And the gals I was standing with usually held 2 plus jobs like this to make ends meet. They were standing out there on their own time, before or after work.

Then, a group of individuals (I don't want to engage in any stero-typing), who actually had no business at the hotel, came out of their way and crossed the very wide metropolitan sidewalk (~25 ft) to where we were standing in order to harass us and shout at us 'Get back to work !#@$%#$#%^'

as if they were our slave masters and we should just do what they bid...n
ot because we were breaking a promise with them,
not because peoples lives depeneded on it,
not because the community needed us there and then to start cleaning a bunch of hotel rooms....
but they chose to yell at us to get back to work becuase we had the audacity to say,
'NO, I don't want to work for scraps, I want a fair wage'

That simple act of these women asserting there individual rights do as they pleased with their own time and ask for a better pay rate was enough in these peoples mind to justify them treating us as slaves

In that one act I learned that all the necessary ingredients for slavery still exist in this society, and we are but half a step away.

Its just now we dont enslave people soley based of the color of their skin....wow what a step forward, our society is a no longer exclusively a race based slavery society...

you speak of slavery? 17.Aug.2004 06:23

umbra

I wish I made as much as the "oppressed" workers at calendula cafe, and so do hundreds of other people. Bending your personal hatred of craigs politics into a a social justice struggle is SICK. Tips are counted as income, in oregon servers rightfully get and deserve a wage beyond that. If you make 7.25 plus 14$ in tips you make 21.50$ an hour. More than the head chef, more than the owner, more than anyone that works there that isn't a server. If you'd proceed under the banner of workers solidarity, then proceed regardless of weither the financial demands of the workers you represent will KILL CALENDULA you do not give a damn about the workers, and social justice struggle is a cloak you can don for convienence. The workers you represent are filing claims against craig outside your arbitration process. Most wobs and actavists I've spoken too do not even know the financial demands of the jerks they're heckling for. Why don't you honestly post them instead of claiming you just want "respect?" Frankly my respect is what you had, and you've lost it.

poor little rich boy 17.Aug.2004 09:44

redworker

workers engage in concerted activity for many reasons. wages hours and condtions are the material reasons most workers organize. But these topics are really a manifestation of the level of respect people feel on the job. Workers in this clase clearly did not feel respected. it seems tike that a trait that the owner

it's important that people respect working people. it's important that indy media people listen to the workers, not the boss. regardless of craigs past work, right now he is a petty capitalist attempting to exploit wage labor. Most restraunts don't show a profit for 2 years.

If craig has not been paid for months and months, how is he paying his bills? most working people would be homeless if they missed their paychecks for several months. He drives a pretty nice car around, maybe he should sell that. craig has money because his family is rich. not well off, not middle class, rich. Now we see the relative balance of materail resources, and there impact on the class struggle. Craig can hold out for months at a loss, while workers are forced to put their job on the line when the boss cuts wages.

the fact that his business is not making money has little to do with the workers. it's because upper end organic vegen restraunts have a very small customer base. most vegens i know will be found around back, going thruogh the dumpster, not dumping 20$ on a plate. I'am a carpenter and i can tell you that.

it really comes down to the old question, who's side are you on?

craig, the leader of all progressive humanity 17.Aug.2004 10:33

useless idiot

To those that support craigs position. "suck it up or get another job." " sacrifice for the boss, for he shall repay you when times are better- (in writing?, well no, but TRUST!)" no robber baron capitalist could say it better. No, it takes a certain type of revolutionary to defend craigs position, you, the useful idiot.

The great leader decides workers must sacrifice MORE, must tighten their belts MORE- for the cause of course. Craig shall stand steady under fire, a progressive finger pointing towards the dawn of a profitable business, the path to candyrock mountain and pie in the sky (did we die?). "for health benefits comrades" for a "better wage to all", and "Free shift meals to the working class" are the slogans we once painted on walls, now they mock us, enshrined in the employee handbook. another pretty lie.

All hail the usefully idiot, those that give "critical support" to the side of the "radical employer" over the "regular worker sheep", you are stalinists, the pol potists, the ones that "know better". your great leader will not have to pull the trigger. you will do it for him. His hands are clean. your services are greatly desired; cops and labor busting goon squads normally demand a paycheck.

good luck 17.Aug.2004 10:52

ex-unionist

good luck to the calendula cafe but don't assume organizing under the iww will solve your problems. try working it out amongst yourselves first. be a real wild cat union.

Liberal Victims: an Infantile Disorder 17.Aug.2004 13:08

Fred Thompson

If C.R. is actually losing money (we really don't know, as his cafe has no public financial disclosure) then maybe he should sell the cafe to his workers and go out and get a real job like the rest of us. He could sign a contract with his employees who would buy out his equity in the business. Or he could respect the employees and other people in the community and enter the collective bargaining process. All of these are drama free solutions.

The problem (for him) is that C.R. has brought this upon himself, by the way he puts himself out there as a public figure, criticizing everyone--with some valid points--but with no constructive solutions, and an unwillingness tolisten to anyone that might think that a living wage is more important than burning buildings. He apparently will not take input from his peers in the workplace, and input is the basis of a free and democratic society. Judging from C.R.'s response to the employees and a lack of a public response, he prefers to be portrayed as a victim by his random supporters on this thread. I promose you that when C.R. finally does come out publically, in so far as he hasn't respected his employees right to organize, his remarks will be filled with vitrolic anti-union garbage veiled in liberal victimhood. If that turns out to be the case, good riddance to this piece of work.

To the remark that his workers make $20 an hour, here is some perspective from someone who has spent 8 years off and on in the industry. A tipped employee typically gets part time--two or three six hour shifts a week during peak time. A full time employee doesn't get the peak tip hours. For the former, we are talking 18 hours a week. If they are lucky, one or two of those shifts are a Friday or Saturday evening. At the most, we are talking $300 a week gross, less state deductions, and uncle scam's share, so really, maybe $200-225 per week. Take out rent, your car/insurance payment, and your utilities, that shift meal (at cost) really make a difference. This assumes that there is no kids in the picture, or an unemployed partner, or a sick family member. By the way, in order to get good shifts that yield high tips, one must kiss ass. In this industry, this typically translates to everything from sucking up to sexual favors, and everything in between. So it is a question of fairness and respect that is connected with wages.

If C.R, fights the union, he is doing the work that the Feds could only dream about doing.

This whole sorry business 17.Aug.2004 14:51

Jonathan

"then maybe he should sell the cafe to his workers and go out and get a real job like the rest of us"

So you think anyone who owns a small business does not have a real job? You are one screwed up jerk, and I am not a CR supporter.

"The problem (for him) is that C.R. has brought this upon himself, by the way he puts himself out there as a public figure, criticizing everyone--with some valid points--but with no constructive solutions, and an unwillingness tolisten to anyone that might think that a living wage is more important than burning buildings."

So this is about his political beliefs. Thanks for clearing up your motivations. You have just lost any legitimacy in my eye, and btw, I do not even agree with his beliefs nor with the way it appears he has handled the situation.

why is this article not a feature? 17.Aug.2004 16:52

margaret

I know portland indymedia has a soft-spot for He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named, the owner of the resteraunt in mention, but it seems like this is exactly the sort of article and discussion that portland indymedia exists to foster, and I am curious as to why it hasn't been featured.

reply 17.Aug.2004 18:14

indy geek

You will not see an Oregonian article featured on this site. It is bad enough that it gets posted in the first place instead of someone bothering to write something original about how they feel and which is more apt to the situation instead of the Oregonian's ugly mentality.

reply 2 17.Aug.2004 18:31

indy geek

However, I just noticed that IWW posted a statement and featured it.