|Peet's Chicago, September 18, 2012|
SUPPORTERS RALLY AROUND A LIVING WAGE
PWG notified the community that we were expecting a corporate entourage to arrive in Chicago and make a statement about a living wage at Peet’s. Supporters gathered outside the store the night of the closed-door meeting and stood respectfully outside with signs, then covered the store windows with their signs to show the Lincoln Park community that Chicago wants Peet’s to pay their workers a living wage.
NERVOUS PEET’S TAKES UP DOMAIN SQUATTING
Days after PWG launched a Facebook page and blog, inspired a community support rally, and sent an internal email cheerfully announcing our organization to every corporate office employee and each of the 200 retail stores, Peet’s corporate bought up peetsworkersgroup.org and over 20 variations of this URL, vainly hoping to curtail our online presence. Peet’s also sent corporate office employees and all Peet’s stores an email referring to our email announcement as “spam” and instructing them to disregard it.
|postcard to employees|
MEDIA, PROFESSORS SUPPORT PWG
PWG gave interviews to multiple media sources and appeared in articles in midwest and west coast publications, including award-winning journalist Ellen Cushing’s East Bay Express article, “Chicago Peet’s Employees Are Organizing – Could the East Bay Be Next?” 8th Day Center for Justice, Chicago’s iconic social justice nonprofit, featured PWG as a partner in their newsletter, where they highlighted us as an important campaign to support in the workers rights movement. (8th Day has been instrumental in the ongoing actions and advocacy of our campaign.) In addition to media, professors at prominent universities came forward with statements supporting PWG’s living wage campaign. Read their quotes on PWG’s Facebook page.
CHICAGO STARTING PAY GOES UP 50 CENTS
Effective immediately after PWG publicized Peet’s embarrassing starting wage of $8.50/hour, management quietly raised the starting wage for Chicago retail associates to $9/hour.
PEET’S SCRAMBLES TO LOCK DOWN MEDIA SITUATION
In response to continued media calls to Peet’s stores concerning PWG, Peet’s instructed retail stores to post memos in the back-of-house instructing store management to avoid making any statements to the media.
PWG SENDS HOLIDAY GREETING TO EMPLOYEES NATIONWIDE
Peet’s employees across the country working the retail holiday rush received a much-appreciated postcard in the mail at their stores letting them know that PWG was advocating on their behalf to bring a living wage and paid sick days to Peet’s.
“INTERNAL MEMO” SHOCKS AND AMUSES EMPLOYEES, BAFFLES CORPORATE
Clearly inspired by PWG’s sustainable employment campaign, anonymous activists in California mailed a letter to Peet’s stores, printed on the company letterhead and apparently sent from Peet’s corporate headquarters. The letter read as an internal memo from recently retired CEO Pat O’Dea, and promised the implementation of a living wage, paid sick days, and regularly scheduled hours for all employees. Only at the end did the author reveal the letter to be a hoax. Quick-acting employees made copies of the letter before all original copies were intercepted or confiscated from each store. The author has yet come forward to take credit for the letter, but employees across the country got a good chuckle, while Peet’s corporate scrambled to find the culprits internally for several days before giving up. Read a copy of the Fake CEO Letter here.
SUPPORT ACTIONS CROP UP IN MULTIPLE U.S. CITIES
PWG supporters, taking a cue from the September 2012 Chicago store rally, decorated Peet’s stores in various cities in a similar theme and sent photos to PWG.
SHEFFIELD STORE ACHIEVES $9 MINIMUM WAGE
Aware that a number of senior employees were still making less the new starting rate of $9/hour, PWG launched a successful campaign to bring all employees up to or above $9/hour. The living wage in Chicago for one person with no dependents is calculated by MIT as $10.48/hour. It's a start!
|Boston, MA, January 2012|
RETAIL ASSOCIATE BRIEFS NEW CEO ON LABOR ISSUES
PWG member Joshua Van Cleef followed Peet’s Open Door Policy all the way to the top, initiating a frank, hour-long phone conversation with Peet’s new CEO David Burwick. Joshua detailed various Peet’s labor problems for David: 80% of employees not making a living wage, the unsustainability of 4-hour-long shifts, and the inaccessibility of Peet’s much-touted health care coverage. David acknowledged these concerns and promised to address the issue of 4-hour shifts, which he quickly agreed were unreasonably short. He also assured Joshua that there is a substantial amount of support for a living wage within the new Peet’s HR department. Read the Progress Illinois article on Joshua and David’s discussion here.
PEET’S ADDRESSES PWG WITH MANAGEMENT TRAINING SESSIONS
Shortly thereafter, Peet’s newly hired anti-union lawyer conducted emergency union-busting training sessions for store management in Boston, MA.
PWG aggressively publicized Peet’s plan to require all employees of recently acquired Caribou Coffee to reapply for their own jobs when their stores were rebranded as Peet’s stores in the upcoming year, despite the virtually identical nature of the two jobs, and the common ownership of the two companies. PWG advocated for these employees via social media and in discussion with management. Peet’s promptly acknowledged the misguidedness of its plan, and exempted all non-management Caribou employees from the reapplication process.
|Fight For 15 rally, Chicago, IL, August 29, 2013|
HR INVITES COLLECTIVE PETITIONING
Peet’s new HR team changed course from the company’s stance last September, assuring PWG that it does acknowledge the existence of “group concerns,” and that it will no longer force employees to address concerns only in one-on-one meetings with management. Our HR Senior Manager has assured PWG that employees are free to choose a group representative to bring any group issue to management, and even suggested using the submission of a letter signed by multiple employees as a way of bringing concerns to the company’s attention. HR assures us that, moving forward, group concerns will be addressed in a thorough and timely manner, per the Open Door Policy.
|Whole Foods Strike, July 31, 2013|
PWG LAUNCHES COMMUNITY NETWORK
2013 has marked the burgeoning of a new, creative, and energetic U.S. labor movement, as organizing initiatives gain momentum across the nation. PWG rallied in support at recent worker actions coordinated by the Restaurant Opportunities Center United and the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago. We are in talks with these and other leading justice organizations about partnerships in future campaigns to benefit Peet's workers and other low-wage workers across the nation. We are incredibly inspired by the energy and bravery of our fellow retail and fast-food workers, and look forward to a bright future of solidarity and further community-building.
Labor Day 2013
|Capital Grille protest, July 24, 2013|
Over the past year, all Chicago PWG members have been offered promotions, including fast tracks to management. We have spoken frankly to management all the way up to the CEO concerning PWG’s values and goals, and we have been personally thanked by district management (and Caribou employees) for convincing Peet’s to guarantee Caribou retail jobs during the Caribou-to-Peet’s transition.
Most importantly, we have broken the oppressive silence that plagues the U.S. low-wage workforce. We have created a respectful voice of dissent within Peet’s. We speak openly about our wages, our rights, and our vision for the company, and we empower our fellow workers to do the same. Creating sustainable employment begins with dialogue, leads to education, and results in action. We are committed to this process, and to our community. Thank you all for your support.
Happy Labor Day!