Statement Regarding the Striking Calendula Workers
This is a statement by the IWW clarifying a strike by four servers at Calendula Cafe. It describes events in the course of the strike, issues the strikers are bringing forward, and clarifies the IWW's role in the strike.
Labor law in the United States is not a worker friendly system.
Typically,when an employer has actually violated the rights of workers as they
exist on paper in the United States, they have engaged in rather agregious
practices. The National Labor Relations Act states that collective
activity is protected activity. This means that any group of workers, union
members or not, have the right to protest, strike, and organize unions without
retaliation from their employer.
When the four servers currently on strike at Calendula notified the
owner that they were witholding their labor, they were immediately fired.
Many of these workers have worked at Calendula since its inception, and have
spent close to a year trying to be a part of building what they hoped would
be something different, something that lived up to its mission of being
a socially responsible workplace. These same workers had repeatedly
attempted to engage the ownership of Calendula in dialogue around what they
considered to be a disrespectful and at times hostile work environment.
Since its opening, Calendula had repeatedly fell back on promises made to these
workers upon hiring, and they had already accepted a round of wage
cuts that brought them from $8 to $7.20 an hour. When Calendula notified the servers that their wages would be cut a second time, down to minimum wage, with no discussion or debate, the workers protested to Craig himself. After hostility, threatening responses, and an absolute refusal to
discuss the issue, the workers determined they could take no more.
After being fired for striking, these workers came to the IWW requesting support.
The IWW did not organize the strike, but we support workers' efforts to gain democracy in the workplace. The IWW has agreed to assist the workers in negotiations with the restaurant.
Three days after being fired for striking, a delegation of the striking workers
and negotiators from the union came to the restaurant to set up a meeting
with Craig Rosebraugh, to notify him of the worker's demands and attempt to
settle the dispute. Craig's response was to notify the strikers and
the union representatives that he was not even interested in hearing the
worker's demands, and that if they did not leave he would call the police.
Since then, Craig his refused to communicate with the strikers or the union
other than through his lawyer, and has refused to meet to discuss what could
be done to remedy the dispute.
The IWW has not requested a boycott of Calendula, and hopes that the
ownership will hold to their mission of being a socially responsible
establishment by meeting these worker's demands.
Both the IWW and the strikers gave Craig repeated opportunity to sit and
talk about their demands before filing legal claims or making their
claims public. Only when Craig repeated that the workers were fired and stated
that he had no intentions of even hearing their demands did the union file
charges or the workers begin to contact the media regarding their case.
When the IWW filed Unfair Labor Practice charges with the National Labor
Relations Board, Craig hired a lawyer, and through his lawyer expressed
that he was still unwilling to meet the workers to discuss what their demands
might be. For an employer to claim financial hardship, but then to hire
a lawyer to fight worker's organization before he has even been willing to
negotiate or hear the demands of the workers seems less than economically
responsible, to himself, or to the workers still employed inside. Craig
has the option not to fight the legal charges, but to negotiate their
settlement with the workers directly at any time, thereby saving himself the
expense and salvaging the name of his establishment, but has chosen not to do
We encourage Calendula to swiftly negotiate a settlement with the fired
strikers, thereby salvaging the reputation of a restaurant committed to
The IWW supports workers in their struggles to establish democratic
workplaces, and supports the right of workers to organize and even to
strike. This is based in a sincere belief that it is the workers themselves
who must begin to develop and envision alternatives to the problems we confront
as a society. We encourage workers in any industry to call us with questions about
the union and ways we can establish democratic workplaces, and work to build the
Industrial Union No. 640
Industrial Workers of the World,
address: 616 E. Burnside
contribute to this article
contribute to this article
add comment to discussion