By STEVE LEIGH
On June 16, over 100 workers and supporters picketed the Capitol Hill, Seattle, outlet of Homegrown Inc. in support of union recognition. UNITE-HERE Local 8 is demanding that the company recognize the union, since 70% of the 250 workers have expressed support for the union. The workers want a contract that would “ bring workers respect on the job and wages and benefits that would make their jobs sustainable.”
Homegrown sells sandwiches at several outlets in the area. It also employs drivers and warehouse workers. The union is calling for a boycott of Homegrown until management recognizes the union. It reports, “Workers delivered a majority petition to Homegrown asking for a fair process to decide to organize a union. We are asking customers to: Don’t Buy Homegrown until Homegrown respects their workers’ decision.”
During the picket, the boycott was very effective. Over nearly two hours, there were almost no customers and the store was empty.
The sidewalk in front of the store was full of workers from different stores in UNITE-HERE Local 8 red T-shirts and signs demanding that management respect its workers. Dozens of union supporters, from SEIU, the King County Labor Council, and community groups joined in the picket. Chants included, “Stop profiting off our labor! We are not just sandwich makers!” and “Homegrown, you can’t hide, we can see your greedy side!”
During the rally at the end of the picket, workers reported on poor working conditions: “Warehouse workers work 12-14 hour days with few breaks. We are berated for going to the bathroom. We get shitty benefits and lack of respect. They attempt to keep us divided.”
Another worker acknowledged the solidarity from supporters and returned it: “We hope this spreads. We want workers across the street and all over to organize! It’s not just here. The problem is capitalism. We need a revolution!”
So far, the company has not agreed to recognize the union. But the workers are confident they can win union recognition and a good contract. At the end of the rally, they warned the company that “we’ll be back” until the workers win!
Steve Leigh is a member of the Seattle Revolutionary Socialists and the Revolutionary Socialist Network.
Photo: From UNITE HERE Local 8 via Twitter.